Russian foreign minister in China on first visit since Ukraine war

By, Beijing
Mar 30, 2022 04:50 PM IST

Sergey Lavrov visited China for the first time since his country began its invasion of its smaller neighbour, Ukraine, on February 24.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday met in a Chinese on Wednesday, reaffirming bilateral ties and criticising economic sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow for invading Ukraine as “illegal” and “counter-productive”, official statements said.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (L) with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Huangshan in China’s Anhui province on Wednesday. (AFP)
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (L) with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after their meeting in Huangshan in China’s Anhui province on Wednesday. (AFP)

It is Lavrov’s first visit to China after Russia invaded its smaller neighbour Ukraine on February 24.

Wang held talks with Lavrov in Tunxi city, in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, where China is holding a two-day multilateral meeting on Afghanistan.

Wang said Chinese and Russian relations had “withstood the test of international turbulence” and there was an increased willingness by them to develop relations that had “grown resiliently”, China’s Phoenix TV reported.

“There is no ceiling for China-Russia cooperation, no ceiling for us to strive for peace, no ceiling for us to safeguard security and no ceiling for us to oppose hegemony,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a media briefing in Beijing.

“China-Russia relations are non-aligned, non-confrontational and not targeted at any third party,” the spokesperson said.

Unlike western nations, China has refused to condemn the invasion or even call it one, instead blaming the US and Nato policies for provoking Russia to invade.

As western countries isolate Russia from global financial systems and supply chains, Moscow has turned to Beijing for both diplomatic support globally, as well as new economic and trade partnerships.

“The ministers had a thorough exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine. The head of the Russian foreign ministry informed his Chinese counterpart about the progress of the special military operation ... and the dynamics of the negotiation process with the Kyiv regime,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The sides noted the counterproductive nature of the illegal unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its satellites,” the Russian statement added.

Lavrov arrived earlier in the day in China for the third meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, which will be chaired by Wang.

Foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan or their representatives will attend the meeting, the Chinese foreign ministry announced earlier.

An extended meeting of the China-US-Russia consultation mechanism on Afghanistan will be held on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ meeting.

The first Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighbouring Countries was held in Moscow on October 21, 2021, followed by another event in this format in Tehran, Iran, on October 27.

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    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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