Russia and China Strengthen Economic Ties Amid Western Backlash
During a visit to Beijing, Russia’s Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, signed several agreements with China, highlighting the strength of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Despite Western criticism of their ties due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, Mishustin described the relations as being at an unprecedented high level. Russia, facing Western sanctions and the challenges of the Ukrainian conflict, is increasingly relying on China for support, particularly in terms of oil and gas demand.
The pressure from the West has not let up, with the Group of Seven (G7) recently announcing tighter sanctions against Moscow and urging China to encourage Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. However, Mishustin emphasized the mutual respect and shared interests between Russia and China, stating that their relationship is characterized by a desire to jointly address challenges amid increased turbulence in the international arena and illegitimate Western sanctions.
The signed memorandums of understanding covered various areas, including investment cooperation in trade services, agricultural product exports to China, and sports collaboration. Interfax news agency reported that Russia’s energy shipments to China are expected to increase by 40% this year, and the two countries are also discussing supplies of technological equipment to Russia.
China’s strong desire to participate in economic activities with Russia originates from the fresh possibilities that have emerged due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia. The intention of Beijing is to actively collaborate with Russia while ensuring that such collaboration does not lead to secondary sanctions against China. China maintains a neutral stance on the conflict in Ukraine, providing support to President Putin and taking measures to prevent any adverse repercussions. The visit of Xi Jinping to Russia in March and his warm portrayal of President Vladimir Putin as a “close companion” demonstrate the robust alliance between the two countries.
China rejects attempts by the West to link its partnership with Russia to the situation in Ukraine, asserting that their cooperation adheres to international norms and is not targeted at any third countries. Both Xi Jinping and Mishustin emphasized the potential for further economic, trade, and investment cooperation, particularly in the energy sector.
China has refrained from openly denouncing Russia’s actions in Ukraine but has put forward a peace plan, which has received cautious reception from Kyiv and skepticism from the West. In a recent European tour, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, presenting China’s efforts to promote peace talks and a political settlement in the region.