Putin Thanks China for Having His Back During Ukraine War

Alexander Ryumin/Pool via Reuters
Alexander Ryumin/Pool via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping put on the performance of a lifetime in Beijing on Thursday, playing peacemakers in the “Ukraine crisis” over a menu of peking duck and Maotai vodka even as Russian troops launch a new offensive.

In the Russian leader’s first overseas trip in his fifth term as president and one of his first trips abroad since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest, Putin gushed about Moscow’s “limitless” bond with Beijing and lapped up the fanfare surrounding his arrival, saying: “I just feel right at home.”

While he faces arrest if he were to set foot on the soil of many other countries, Putin was treated to a lavish ceremony at the Great Hall of the People that included a 21-gun salute, marching band, and an honor guard. Kremlin-controlled media was quick to seize on the optics of the ceremony for a flurry of reports apparently showing Putin still commands respect on the world stage.

“Our cooperation in world affairs is one of the main stabilizing factors on the international stage. Together we defend the principles of fairness and the democratic world order,” Putin told his Chinese counterpart, who shot back that the two countries together “uphold justice in the world.”

Putin went on to say, “We are grateful to China for its efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis.”

Beijing’s “efforts” to help stop the war include supplying Moscow with components it needs to make weapons and proposing a peace plan that lets Russia keep the territories it seized.

A joint statement from both sides vowing to strengthen relations on the 75th anniversary of Chinese-Russian diplomatic ties claims, rather unconvincingly, that both Beijing and Moscow want to prevent any further “escalation” of the war.

“The parties note the need to stop any steps that contribute to prolonging hostilities and further escalation of the conflict, call for preventing its transition into an uncontrollable phase, and emphasize the importance of dialogue as the optimal form of resolving the Ukrainian crisis,” the statement reads.

If you find yourself wondering if that’s a joke, you’re not alone, as the Russian military is currently embarking on a new offensive to take Ukraine’s Kharkiv. Even as Putin and Xi smiled and rubbed elbows Thursday, Russian troops had begun moving into the town of Volchansk in the Kharkiv region, where local authorities said they wasted no time shooting civilians and taking them hostage.

It seems Putin and Xi can keep telling whatever narrative they like, however. Amid the deals struck and vows made Thursday, the two sides also reportedly signed documents to team up on producing propaganda. China’s Xinhua news agency will work with Russia’s state-owned TASS, and will also hold a forum with the Rossiya Segodnya media group.

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