China joins Russia in opposing NATO expansion, doesn't weigh in on Ukraine

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping
(Image credit: ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Friday in Beijing as Winter Olympics began and issued a detailed statement of their nations' vision for a new international order, The Washington Post reported.

The Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development, which is over 5,000 words in length, does not directly mention Ukraine. Per the Post, "[a]nalysts say the omission probably reflects China's unwillingness to support a Russian invasion of its neighbor to the west."

Despite the lack of direct allusions to the ongoing crisis on Ukraine's border, the document did contain plenty of criticisms of U.S. foreign policy.

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"The sides" — the statement's term for Russia and China — "oppose further enlargement of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries, the diversity of their civilizational, cultural and historical backgrounds, and to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards the peaceful development of other States," the statement reads.

Russia also joined China in expressing concerns about U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific region, even as China echoed Russian talking points about American missiles in Eastern Europe: "The sided [sic] call on the United States to ... abandon its plans to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe."

Putin has demanded that NATO pull military forces — especially medium- and long-range missiles — out of Eastern Europe and offer Russia a guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted to the alliance.

U.S. diplomat Daniel Kritenbrink warned Friday that if Russia does invade Ukraine, it might "embarrass Beijing" because it would suggest "that China is willing to tolerate or tacitly support Russia's efforts to coerce Ukraine," the Post reported.

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