Over the course of the war, which has now gone on for nearly 13 months, Beijing has repeatedly attempted to position itself as a neutral arbiter; however, it has not condemned the war and has often pushed Russia’s account of the war. Last month, China proposed a peace plan that Ukraine and the West quickly dismissed due to aspects of the deal that benefit Russia.
“I don’t think you can reasonably look at China as impartial in any way,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said on Tuesday. “They haven’t condemned this invasion. They haven’t stopped buying Russian oil and Russian energy. … They haven’t condemned this invasion. They haven’t stopped buying Russian oil and Russian energy.”
China announced a 12-point peace plan last month that called for, among other things, a ceasefire that would freeze the current battlefield positions in place. The move would effectively solidify Russia’s current gains on the battlefield, which is why Ukraine is opposed to it. A ceasefire, U.S. officials have explained, would provide Russia the opportunity to refit, resupply, and redeploy its troops for a future offensive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s highly anticipated trip to Moscow that he supports “many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China.” The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Russian leaders spoke “positively of China’s objective and impartial position” in a statement.
“President Xi saw fit to fly all the way to Moscow, hasn’t talked once to President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, hasn’t visited Ukraine, hasn’t bothered to avail himself of the Ukrainian objective, and he and his regime keep parroting the Russian propaganda that this is somehow a war of the West on Russia, that it’s some sort of existential threat,” Kirby added. “That’s just a bunch of malarkey.”
U.S. officials have warned about the growing relationship between Russia and China. Specifically, officials have said in recent weeks that China is considering providing lethal aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, though they maintain Beijing has not done so yet.
China and Russia have grown closer in part because they both “chafe and bristle at U.S. leadership around the world,” Kirby said the day before, explaining that Xi sees Putin as a “potential ally” in Beijing’s “challenge [to] U.S. leadership around the world,” while Putin sees Xi as “a lifeline of sorts for a war that he’s conducting that has clearly not gone anywhere near the direction he wanted it to go.”
In order to counter their growing relationship, the U.S. is focused on “revitalizing our alliances and partnerships around the world and advancing our foreign policy goals around the world,” he added.