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Blinken: Xi giving Putin 'diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit' war crimes

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 3/20/2023 Joel Gehrke
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Chinese President Xi Jinping is “provid[ing] diplomatic cover” for Russian war crimes in Ukraine, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who dismissed Beijing’s peace proposal as a maneuver to aid Russia.

“That President Xi is traveling to Russia days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine,” Blinken told reporters Monday at the State Department. “And instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes.”


Xi descended on Moscow with the stated goal of showcasing his regime’s “long-standing friendship” with Russia and their desire “to stand guard over the world order based on international law.” The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrest last week after United Nations investigators accused Russia of forcibly deporting Ukrainian children into Russia, a policy that U.S. officials have described as "one of the indicia of genocide" under international law.

The high-profile visit comes just weeks after Chinese officials called for a ceasefire in Ukraine as part of a peace proposal that did not demand a corollary Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, which Blinken characterized as “the fundamental element” of “a just and durable peace” following the war.

“Any plan that does not prioritize this critical principle is a stalling tactic at best or is merely seeking to facilitate an unjust outcome. That is not constructive diplomacy,” Blinken said. “Calling for a ceasefire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest.”

Blinken stepped up his criticism of Xi’s posture as Chinese officials are attempting to position China as an alternative principle of order in international affairs. Xi unveiled a “global security initiative” just days before releasing the peace proposal for Ukraine, and Chinese officials orchestrated an apparent diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has burned Beijing’s reputation for diplomacy.

“It simply demonstrates that we have yet another capable diplomacy which can contribute to the two noble goals of peace and security and stability,” a senior Central Asian official told the Washington Examiner. “China wants — [the Middle East] was for many, many decades regarded as a West-dominated region. But things are much more dynamic now. Whether this will bring more instability or rather more positive outcomes, this remains to be seen.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin complimented Xi’s “fair and balanced position on most pressing international problems.” He affirmed that Russia would “treat with respect” China’s proposal, although Kremlin officials also said that peace talks can only take place if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees to territorial concessions.

"The future of the peace process depends solely on the will to engage in a meaningful discussion taking into account current geopolitical realities,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, according to state media.

Blinken derided that posture by emphasizing that Russia “doesn’t even control” the regions that it claims to have annexed into the Russian state.

“Russia’s purported annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory, including vast areas it doesn’t even control, and its ongoing, brutal attacks on civilians make clear that President Putin currently has no interest in such a peace,” he said.


Russian and Ukrainian forces are in the midst of a brutal struggle for control of Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian town that has emerged as the focal point of the fighting in the months since the conclusion of Ukraine’s fall counteroffensive. Russian forces have been trying to seize Bakhmut, while Kyiv hopes that the effort will exhaust the Russian military in advance of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the spring.

“A ceasefire now, without a durable solution, would allow President Putin to rest and refit his troops and then restart the war at a time more advantageous to Russia,” Blinken said. “The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia — supported by China or any other country — to freeze the war on its own terms.”


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Tags: Russia, News, Foreign Policy, National Security, China

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: Blinken: Xi giving Putin 'diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit' war crimes


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