January 28, 2023

Chinese officials have criticized Vladimir Putin as “crazy” and claimed that Beijing believes Russia will fail its war in Ukraine and emerge from the conflict as a “minor power”.

Several Chinese officials warned that Beijing should not “simply follow Russia” and blindly support the war in Ukraine in a rare rebuke of Putin’s barbaric invasion.

The officials said they believe Russia will not be able to win the war in Ukraine, and the shock of such a costly and deadly conflict will see Moscow emerge as a “minor power” with a dwindling economy and a poor standing on the world stage.

The scathing comments by Chinese officials, some accusing Putin of being “crazy”, mark a significant turning point in supposedly friendly relations between Russia and China, just a month after the two countries vowed to deepen their bilateral ties.

It now appears that President Xi Jinping may be doing all he can, through his officials, to distance himself from Putin and his war, as the Chinese leader now focuses on improving his diplomatic relations with the West. Pictured: Putin and Xi during a meeting in Beijing on February 4, 2022, 20 days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Ukrainian army's Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian frontline positions near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian army’s Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian frontline positions near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Wednesday.

It now appears that President Xi Jinping may be doing all he can, through his officials, to distance himself from Putin and his war, as the Chinese leader now focuses on improving his diplomatic relations with the West.

‘Putin is crazy,’ a Chinese official told the financial times. ‘The decision to invade was made by a very small group of people. China should not just follow Russia.”

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Beijing now believes Russia is likely to fail in its mission to win the war against Ukraine and exit the conflict as a “minor power,” Chinese officials said.

On the ground in Ukraine, Russia has been suffering a series of setbacks, with hundreds of soldiers killed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Soledar amid fierce fighting. And to make matters worse for Moscow, Iran would have slowed the delivery of missiles to Russian forces on the front lines.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly 11 months ago, Xi has stopped short of publicly criticizing Putin for the war, but in November he issued a direct warning to the Russian president not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine in his biggest public rebuke to the Kremlin yet. . .

And Chinese officials have now said that within the corridors of power in Beijing, there is mistrust of Putin. They said Moscow did not inform China that it would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine before Putin ordered the attack.

An official told the newspaper that Putin only told Xi that Russia “would not rule out taking any possible action if separatists in eastern Ukraine attack Russian territory and cause humanitarian disasters.”

This suggests that tensions between China and Russia have been brewing for some time in private. In public, China’s foreign ministry repeated Russian talking points about NATO expansionism, the West’s ‘Cold War mentality’, and criticized journalists for using the words ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ .

Ukrainian soldiers at their frontline positions near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

Ukrainian soldiers at their frontline positions near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

But as Moscow’s forces have been maimed on the battlefield, China’s tone has changed. At a summit in Uzbekistan in September, Putin was forced to publicly acknowledge that Xi had “questions and concerns” after meeting with him.

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Now Xi is trying to distance himself from Putin and his war as part of a broader strategy to improve China’s relations with Europe as well as its image at home after rare nationwide protests over his catastrophic zero covid policy.

In fact, Xi is reportedly trying to position himself as the one who could stop Putin from releasing nuclear weapons.

In November, Xi issued a direct warning to Putin not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine in China’s strongest rebuke of the Kremlin yet.

Xi also urged German Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz, who was visiting Beijing, to push forward the peace talks, saying the international community should “create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) oppose the use or threat of weapons.” nuclear”.

“China would always have been opposed to the use of nuclear weapons,” Susan Shirk, president of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego, told the FT.

“But when Xi Jinping says these kinds of things to European leaders, he wants to emphasize a certain distance from Russia.”

Putin is suffering a series of setbacks in Ukraine, and to make matters worse, Iran is reportedly cutting back on drone delivery to Russian soldiers on the front lines.

Putin reportedly called Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi to “try to find out what caused the delay in the delivery of weapons, first of all, ballistic missiles and launchers for those missiles,” Russian Telegram channel General SVR claimed.

“The Iranian president attributed the delay to difficulties and promised to resume in the foreseeable future,” the Telegram channel said today.

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The issue surrounding the drones was claimed to be the real reason behind a phone call between Putin and Raisi.

A Kremlin statement had said mildly that the phone talks had been about “expanding bilateral cooperation in all fields” and “consistently implementing mutually beneficial projects in energy, transport and logistics.”

Moscow has become dependent on Iranian drones and missiles due to chronically sluggish weapons production at its own military factories.

In November, Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged that his country has supplied drones to Russia, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine, in which Iranian-made drones bombed Kyiv.

But the US government said in December that Iran sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia over the summer and, in turn, Russia is moving to provide advanced military assistance to Iran, including air defense systems, helicopters and fighter planes.