China, which Russia has looked to as an ally since a slew of sanctions was imposed on it by the West over its invasion of Ukraine, has called the United States the “main instigator” of the crisis.
In an interview with Russia’s state news agency TASS published on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui accused Washington of cornering Russia with repeated NATO enlargements and backing forces seeking to align Ukraine with the European Union instead of with Moscow.
“As the initiator and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia, continues to supply Ukraine with weapons and military equipment,” Zhang said. “Their ultimate goal is to exhaust and crush Russia with a protracted war and the stick of sanctions.”
The ambassador’s reasoning closely followed one of Russia’s own justifications for its invasion of Ukraine, which has left thousands dead and caused the devastation of entire cities, in addition to leading more than a quarter of the population to flee from their homes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing in February to meet Xi Jinping as Russian tanks massed on the Ukrainian border, agreeing to what the two states saw as a “no-holds-barred” partnership superior to any Cold War alliance.
In the interview, Zhang said Sino-Russian relations had entered “the best period in history, characterized by the highest level of mutual trust, the highest degree of interaction and the highest strategic importance.”
Russia calls the invasion its “special military operation” and says it was necessary not only to maintain its own security, but also to protect Russian-speakers from persecution.
Ukraine and the West say these are baseless pretexts for an imperial war of aggression against a neighbor that gained independence when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.