As Russia tightens ties with China, West offers $16 billion lifeline to Kyiv

    WORLD  22 March 2023 - 12:00

    China's President Xi Jinping was due to depart Moscow on March 22 after a grandiose display of solidarity with Russian President Vladimir Putin against the West, but without offering direct support for Putin's war in Ukraine.

    During his two-day visit Xi barely mentioned the Ukraine conflict and said on Tuesday in final remarks that China had an "impartial position", Reuters reports.

    Responding to the Xi-Putin meeting, the White House said China's position was not impartial and urged Beijing to pressure Russia to withdraw from Ukraine's sovereign territory in order to end Europe's biggest conflict since World War Two.

    As Xi prepared to leave Moscow, air raid sirens blared across the Ukraine capital Kyiv and in Ukraine's north and east, with reports of drone attacks, but no major destruction.

    Heralded by the Kremlin as a show of support from its most powerful friend, Xi's visit to Moscow featured carefully staged pomp and ceremony, but the spectacle was also marked by plenty of demonstrative bonhomie between the two autocrats.

    Xi and Putin referred to each other as dear friends, promised economic cooperation and described their countries' relations as the best they have ever been.

    A joint statement included familiar accusations against the West - that Washington was undermining global stability and NATO barging into the Asia-Pacific region - while also asserting that the close partnership between China and Russia did not constitute a "military-political alliance."

    On Ukraine, Putin praised Xi for a peace plan he proposed last month, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting. The West sees China's peace plan as a ploy to buy Putin time to regroup his forces and solidify his grip on occupied land.

    China's 12-point plan has no specific details on how to end the bloody year-long war, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced millions to flee.

    The West has sought to isolate Russia through global sanctions and Putin faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court.

    China has not supported any of the moves and the West is concerned it may help arm Russia in its conflict, which Beijing has denied.

    As Xi and Putin ended their talks on March 21, the International Monetary Fund announced preliminary agreement with Kyiv on a four-year loan package of about $15.6 billion to the shattered country.

    The money would help shore up Ukraine, which has suffered extensive damage to its infrastructure and economy during Russia's year-long assault.

    In remarks after his summit with Xi, Putin condemned British plans to send tank ammunition that contains depleted uranium to Ukraine, and warned of repercussions.

    "If all this happens, Russian will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component," Putin said, without elaborating.

    Caliber.Az

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