Chinese support for Russia ‘alarming’ – US
Washington is becoming increasingly concerned by China’s moves to side with Moscow on security issues on the European continent, the Pentagon has warned amid weeks of standoff across the border between Russia and Ukraine.
Speaking in a briefing on Monday, defense spokesman John Kirby set out his view on the increasingly close collaboration between Beijing and Moscow in the face of mounting Western pressure.
“We certainly have been watching the – at least public – burgeoning relationship between Russia and China,” he remarked, commenting on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s declaration calling for a halt to NATO expansion earlier this month.
“Their February 4 joint statement certainly provided further evidence that China has decided that they’re going to stand alongside Russia with respect to what’s going on in Europe,” Kirby said. “We would say that their tacit support, if you will, for Russia is deeply alarming.”
According to Kirby, Beijing’s backing of Moscow on high-stakes issues is “even more destabilizing to the security situation in Europe.”
Western leaders have repeatedly warned for several months that Russia could soon order an invasion of Ukraine, with officials sounding the alarm that Moscow could strike during the Beijing Winter Olympics. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned earlier this month that China will “end up owning some of the costs of a Russian invasion of Ukraine” due to their mutual economic ties.
The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected that it has any plans to attack. On Tuesday, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense announced that its troops had wrapped up their training drills in Belarus, close to Ukraine, and would begin the process of withdrawing.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, the chief spokesperson for the ministry, said that “as the forces complete their military exercises, they will, as always, complete a multimodal march back to their permanent bases.”
Amid accusations that Russia’s armed forces could strike, Moscow has sought to obtain security guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion closer to its borders.
Following talks between Xi and Putin in December, the Russian leader’s foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, revealed that the Chinese president supports Moscow’s bid for assurances. “He is naturally well aware of and understands the main issue: the concerns Russia has on its western borders,” the Kremlin aide revealed.
Moscow and Beijing have emphasized the importance of their relationship in an array of fields, including trade, energy, economics, and defense, with Putin stating earlier in February that their ties have reached “unprecedented” levels. While there are signs of growing cooperation between Russia and China, a number of analysts have hinted that the partnership is less evolved in comparison to other blocs, such as NATO.