Ukraine War: U.S. says Xi’s visit to Russia to strengthen Putin
The United States has criticised Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, alleging it would strengthen Russia as it struggles to make ground in its year-long war on Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Mr Xi’s visit suggested that “China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine”.
“Instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those grave crimes,” Mr Blinken said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chinese leader will hold further talks on Tuesday.
While China has sought to cast itself as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict, the visit also underlined an ever-closer relationship between Moscow and Beijing. Washington criticised it as providing “diplomatic cover” for Mr Putin.
By contrast, Mr Xi may only speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by telephone.
“We are waiting for confirmation,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
On the battlefields in Ukraine, Russia kept up air raids and missile and rocket strikes over a wide area in the east, the Ukrainian military said.
Ukraine said Russia’s main aim was to reach the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas, large areas of which are already under Russian control.
Russian forces had attacked once again in the city Bakhmut – the site of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war – and other targets but had been repelled, it said.
Ukraine also said on Tuesday that an explosion in Dzhankoi city, north of the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula, destroyed Russian Kalibr-KN cruise missiles as they were transported by rail.
The defence ministry’s intelligence directorate said the missiles were designed to be fired from ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
It stopped short of claiming responsibility for the blast.
For months, Moscow has publicly promoted plans for a visit by Mr Xi, its most powerful ally in the face of Western opposition to the war. Mr Xi has sought to portray Beijing as a peacemaker in Ukraine even as he deepens economic ties with Moscow.
The Chinese proposal has been largely dismissed in the West as a ploy to buy Mr Putin time to regroup his forces and solidify his grip on occupied land.
Ukrainian and Western officials fear any ceasefire would merely freeze the front lines, handing Russia an advantage as it struggles to make headway following a series of setbacks since launching its invasion in February last year.
White House spokesman John Kirby said Mr Xi should use his influence to press Mr Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine.
The timing of Mr Xi’s visit also boosted Mr Putin as it came just days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president accusing him of war crimes for deporting children from Ukraine.
Denying the charges, Russia said it has taken in orphans to protect them.
China said the warrant reflected double standards.
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