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‘China will continue to support Russia on sovereignty and security,’ Xi tells Putin – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a call on Wednesday that Beijing would continue to support Moscow on “sovereignty and security”, according to state media.

China is “willing to continue offering mutual support (to Russia) on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security,” the Chinese state broadcaster said. CCTV reported Xi as saying.

It was the second reported call between the two leaders since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

China has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by blowing up Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

According CCTVXi praised the “good development momentum” of bilateral relations since the beginning of the year “in the face of global turbulence and changes”.

Beijing was willing to “step up strategic coordination between the two countries”, Xi reportedly said.

China stands ready to “strengthen communication and coordination” with Russia in international organizations and “push the international order and global governance towards more just and reasonable development,” he added.

The European Union and the United States have warned that any support from Beijing for Russia’s war in Ukraine, or any help for Moscow to dodge Western sanctions, would damage relations with China.

China, along with India, are two major economies that did not take part in the retaliatory measures against Moscow following its invasion.

In the eyes of Chinese officials, the Europeans have allowed themselves to be led into supporting Ukraine, at the initiative of Washington, in an approach contrary to their interests as Russian gas consumers.

Once bitter Cold War foes, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up cooperation in recent years to counterbalance what they see as US global dominance.

The two countries have grown closer in the political, commercial and military spheres in what they call a “limitless” relationship.

The two sides unveiled the first road bridge linking the two countries last week, linking the far eastern Russian city of Blagoveshchensk to the northern Chinese city of Heihe.

Wednesday’s call between the two leaders fell on Xi’s 69th birthday and was their first reported communication since the day after Russia launched its invasion of its European neighbor.

Xi, who described Putin as an “old friend”, also invited his Russian counterpart to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early February.

Beijing is Moscow’s biggest trading partner, with trade volumes reaching $147 billion last year, according to China Customs data, up more than 30 percent from 2019.

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