China’s fury at Putin over prolonged Ukraine war: Thought it would be over quickly

China ‘preparing for war with US’ says expert

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China will continue strengthening strategic ties with Russia, according to a senior Chinese diplomat. It will, they said, ensure that their relationship remains solid, despite growing concerns over war crimes committed by President Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine. During a meeting this week in Beijing with Russian envoy Andrey Ivanovich Denisov, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng called for deepening ties in a range of fields, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.

He cited figures that suggest a 30 percent increase in trade between the countries in the first three months of 2022 as an example of “the great resilience and internal dynamism of bilateral cooperation.”

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, China was moving toward Russia at an unprecedented rate.

Earlier that month, the two agreed on two long-term supply deals for oil, with the Kremlin saying in a statement after the agreement was signed: “Friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.”

It was around this time — as Russia amassed over 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s border — that China threw its weight behind Moscow and condemned NATO’s plans to expand eastward.

Returning the favour, Russia pledged its support to Beijing’s One China Policy, which claims that Taiwan is part of China and will one day be reunified with the mainland.

Some analysts have suggested China might have been tricked into allying with Russia on the cusp of its planned invasion; that Beijing would never have calculated Putin’s extraordinary move.

But, Andrew Small, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, who specialises in Europe-China relations, argues that China would have had an inkling of what was about to happen.

He told Express.co.uk that Beijing had, in effect, played an “enabling” role in the run-up to the invasion.

He said: “I think the expectation on China’s behalf — and we can debate how much they knew before the invasion took place — was that they had expected it would be over quickly, that it would be a fast intervention of the sort that they had seen in Crimea in 2014 and in the Syrian civil war.

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“China thought that this would be successful and whatever was done — either that Russia would coerce concessions out of Ukraine and the West or that it would be a rapidly conducted successful operation — would work.

“They hadn’t expected it to drag out in the manner that it has, they hadn’t expected the level of resilience on Ukraine’s part, they hadn’t expected Russia to be as ineffective as it has been, and I think they had also not expected to be called out for what they were doing to the level that they were.

“China has been able to operate relatively under the radar since 2014 and its aftermath when it came in to support Russia with economic issues following western sanctions.

“But this time, they’ve been under considerable scrutiny from the US and others.”

It is widely believed that Russia was confident that it would invade and capture Ukraine within a matter of days.

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But fierce Ukrainian resistance, a victorious information war by President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the support from the West in the form of military equipment has combined to reveal cracks in Russia’s military.

The war will not be confined to Ukraine, however, as experts warn that the global political order is on the edge of the precipice.

Experts at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) say the world is at risk of splitting into two economic blocs as a “tectonic shift” puts an end to decades of globalisation.

It came as economists slashed growth forecasts in the wake of the conflict.

They suggest that Russia and China could build on their recently ramped up ties to create a financial system to rival the West, especially as Russia struggles under the heavy weight of global sanctions.

Moscow has been removed from the Swift global payments messaging system, something that many European countries, including Germany, were initially hesitant to back.

And while this was expected to deliver an impossible blow to Russia — coupled with the withdrawal of Visa and Mastercard — China has since stepped in to soften the hit and allow Russia to use its UnionPay platform.

Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF chief economist, told the Telegraph: “The war also increases the risk of a more permanent fragmentation of the world economy into geopolitical blocs with distinct technology standards, cross-border payment systems, and reserve currencies.”

He added that the tectonic shift would tear apart the “rules-based framework that has governed international and economic relations for the last 75 years”.

China has been warned by both the EU and US not to undermine sanctions and help prop up Russia.

In early April, EU commission President Ursula von der Leyen told President Xi Jinping that China risks losing the privileged access it currently has to western and European markets.

She said: “We expect China, if not supporting the sanctions, at least to do everything not to interfere in any kind.

“No European citizen would understand any support for Russia’s ability to wage war.

“Moreover, it would lead to a major reputational damage for China here in Europe — the reputational risks are also the driving forces in the exodus of international companies from Russia.”

But while EU representatives looked to attack China on the commercial front, Xi slipped back into Beijing’s traditional anti-NATO messaging.

He said: “The Ukraine crisis originates from the long-standing security conflicts in Europe.

“The fundamental solution is to take care of the reasonable security concerns of all sides.

“Today’s era does not call for the Cold War mentality to construct the global and regional security framework.”

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