As the invasion of Ukraine heads into its one-year mark, China is making new overtures to Russia.
Driving the news: China’s top diplomat Wang Yi became the highest-ranking official to visit Russia since the invasion began, meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other top officials to let them know China is committed to strengthening political and economic ties.
- Putin said the two countries would reach “new milestones” in areas like bilateral trade, and would work together to oppose Western-dominated global leadership.
- Putin also announced Chinese President Xi Jinping would be visiting Russia in the coming months, for what would be their second meeting since the invasion began.
This comes just days after Joe Biden made surprise appearances in Ukraine, where he met Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Poland, where he pledged Russia would never defeat Ukraine.
Why it matters: China claims it has a neutral stance on the invasion, but it has economically supported Russia through Western sanctions (by buying record quantities of oil and gas). An expansion of economic cooperation means Russia can afford to continue its war efforts.
- US intelligence is concerned that China could soon supply arms to Russia, a claim that China has denied, though the two have commenced new joint military exercises.
Zoom out: One year in, Russia controls about one-fifth of Ukraine and continues to roll out major offensives. Both sides are dug in and peace negotiations are seemingly off the table.