Vladimir Putin blasts west ahead of state visit to Beijing


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Russian President Vladimir Putin has delivered a blistering attack on the west ahead of a visit to China this week, blaming “western elites” for the war in Ukraine and outlining Beijing and Moscow’s alignment on a parallel world order.

In an interview published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday, Putin said the two autocracies had “similar or coinciding positions” on geopolitical issues.

Both Russia and China advocated for “international law”, Putin said, but rejected “western attempts to impose an order based on . . . some mythical rules of no one knows whose making”.

The publication of the lengthy interview comes as Putin is due to arrive in China on Thursday for a two-day state visit, the Russian leader’s first foreign trip since he was sworn in for a fifth presidential term last week.

The trip will include talks with Xi Jinping, who has also championed a “multipolar” model of global affairs with a diminished role for the US-led west.

“Today’s global shocks have been provoked precisely by [the west’s] policies,” Putin said of the invasion of Ukraine, which he referred to as a “dramatic manifestation [of] the crisis on the planet today”. The UN has said Moscow’s invasion directly violates its charter through the unilateral use of force.

China has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion, arguing that as an independent third party to the Ukraine conflict, it should not be blamed for the war and is entitled to pursue its own relations with Russia.

Instead, it has offered a position paper warning against the use of nuclear weapons, making veiled criticism of Nato and calling for a ceasefire without demanding a Russian withdrawal.

In his interview, Putin praised the “realistic and concrete steps” in China’s peace plan, which largely echoed Russia’s own talking points on the war, saying they could be the “foundation of a political-diplomatic process that takes into account Russia’s security concerns and helps ensure a long-term, stable peace”.

The Russian president added that the “main problem” with any future talks was the reliability of any security guarantees for Ukraine and Russia in the face of what he described as western duplicity, implying a greater role for China in ending the conflict.

He did not repeat his recent veiled threats that Russia could make use of its nuclear arsenal to deter western support for Ukraine. Xi warned Putin personally against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine during a visit to Moscow last year.

Beijing has insisted that it is not supplying weapons to its neighbour, which western powers have repeatedly warned against. But western leaders suspect China’s economic support for Russia — including its trade in engines and machine tools — is helping Moscow’s war effort.

In the Xinhua interview, Putin said “Russia stands ready for negotiations” but blamed the west for the collapse of talks at the beginning of the conflict.

Putin placed great hopes for Russia and China’s efforts to build a new order based on loose international groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Brics.

The SCO includes Russia, China, central Asian countries, India, Pakistan and Iran. The Brics consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, with Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates recently also joining.

“We have actively contributed to launching multilateral associations and mechanisms that are independent of the west and are successfully operating,” Putin said.

Both associations are “key pillars of the emerging multipolar world order”, Putin said, with experts from member countries co-operating in space exploration, nanotechnology, nuclear medicine and biotech.



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2024-05-15 09:00:13

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