Hong Kong (CNN) Chinese leader Xi Jinping and its Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko – Close ally of Vladimir Putin – vowed to deepen defense and security ties and expressed common views on the war in Ukraine during Wednesday’s meeting in Beijing, with geopolitical tensions Russia war Continue to rise.
Lukashenko endorsed China’s recent position on a “political solution” to the conflictAccording to a Chinese Foreign Ministry readout of the meeting, a reference to a statement issued by Beijing last week that called for peace talks to end the conflict, but did not push for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine – drawing skepticism from Western leaders.
Xi and Lukashenko both expressed “deep concern over the protracted armed conflict,” and look forward to an “early return to peace in Ukraine,” according to a joint statement after they were seated in the Great Hall of the People, where Xi received Lukashenko at a ceremony alongside a contingent of Chinese troops.
The visit by the Belarusian leader — who allowed Russian forces to use Belarus to launch their initial incursion into Ukraine last year — comes as tensions between the United States and China have escalated in recent weeks, including over Washington fears that Beijing is considering sending lethal aid to the Kremlin’s faltering war effort.
Beijing has denied the allegations and has instead sought to portray itself as a neutral proxy for peace — in contrast to the United States, which it has accused of “adding fuel to the fire” in the conflict and harming the global economy with sanctions targeting Russia. .
Speaking of the war at Wednesday’s meeting, Xi called on “relevant countries” to “stop politicizing and harnessing the global economy” and work in a way to help “resolve the crisis peacefully,” an apparent reference to the United States and its allies.
The joint statement stressed the alignment between Minsk and Beijing when it comes to their opposition to what they see as a Western-led world order, with their joint statement including opposition to “all forms of hegemony and power politics, including the illegal imposition of unilateral sanctions and restrictive measures against other countries” .
The statement said that China and Belarus, which have been targeted by heavy Western sanctions after the Russian invasion, will enhance their cooperation across a range of economic fields.
They also pledged to “deepen cooperation” in training military personnel, combating terrorism, and jointly “preventing a ‘color revolution'” – a reference to popular pro-democracy movements that the authoritarians claim are backed by Western governments.
tensions with the West
The meeting, described as “warm and friendly” by Chinese state media, was the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders since the elevation of ties to an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership” on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit. Last September in Uzbekistan, which Putin also attended.
“Today we will jointly lay out new visions for the development of bilateral relations… Our long-term friendly exchanges will keep our friendship unbreakable,” Xi told Lukashenko during the meeting, according to Chinese state media. He also supported Belarus in becoming a full member of the China-Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where it is currently an observer state.
Speaking on the same day from Uzbekistan, which is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that China “cannot do it both ways”, by “displaying itself as a force for peace publicly”, while Continue to light the fire that Vladimir Putin has kindled.”
Blinken said there were “some positive elements” in the Chinese peace proposal, but accused China of doing the opposite in support of peace in Ukraine “in terms of its efforts to push Russian propaganda and misinformation about obstructing and handling the war in Russia’s favor.”
He also reiterated the West’s concerns that China is considering deadly aid to Russia, and later said he had no plans to meet with his Russian or Chinese counterparts at the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled in New Delhi, India, on March 2.
The consolidation of relations between Minsk and Beijing also comes along with a years-long downturn in Belarus’ relations with the West.
The ex-Soviet country was targeted by sweeping sanctions from the United States and its allies in response to Moscow’s aggression after Lukashenko allowed Russian forces to invade Ukraine across the 1,000km-long Ukraine-Belarusian border north of Kiev.
Nor does the EU recognize the outcome of Lukashenko’s 2020 election victory – which sparked mass pro-democracy protests in the country and was followed by a brutal government crackdown. The United States also described the elections as “rigged”.
There have been fears throughout the conflict in Ukraine that Belarus will again be used as a staging area for another Russian offensive, or that Lukashenko’s own forces will join the war. Before visiting Moscow earlier this month, Lukashenko He claimed that there is no “way” His country will send troops to Ukraine unless it is attacked.
Like China, Belarus has previously indicated that the United States does not want to see an end to the conflict.
In remarks to reporters earlier this month before he headed to Moscow to meet Putin, Lukashenko stressed that he wanted to see “peaceful negotiations” and accused the United States of preventing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from negotiating.
“Only the United States needs this massacre, only they want it,” he said.
CNN’s Beijing bureau Martin Guilando, Wayne Cheng, and Sandy Seidoo contributed to the report.
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