Putin ally Lukashenko meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing

Wednesday | March 1, 2023

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko – a close ally of Vladimir Putin – on Wednesday, in a state visit that comes as the West warns China against providing lethal aid for Putin’s war in Ukraine.

According to Belarusian state media agency Belta, Xi welcomed Lukashenko before the two started official discussions on Wednesday in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

It is their first face-to-face meeting since the two presidents decided in September, outside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan, which Putin also attended, to upgrade their nations’ relations to a “all-weather comprehensive strategic alliance.”

The Belarusian leader’s visit comes as tensions between the US and China have risen recently, including over worries from Washington that Beijing is considering sending lethal aid to the Kremlin’s faltering war effort. Last year, Belarus was used by Russian troops to stage their initial incursion into Ukraine. Beijing has refuted these assertions.

The meeting took place the next day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed how the US would react to any lethal help China gave to Russia on Tuesday in some of the most forthright remarks to yet.

On a visit to Kazakhstan, Blinken issued a warning that Washington would pursue any Chinese companies or individuals implicated in any attempt to provide lethal assistance to Russia for its conflict in Ukraine. Then, he said that he had no intentions of meeting with his Chinese or Russian counterparts at the G20 gathering of foreign ministers set for March 2 in New Delhi, India.

Beijing has disputed the American accusation that it is considering delivering lethal aid, despite claiming to be a third party to the crisis. According to the Foreign Ministry, the US was “pouring fatal weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine,” while China was “actively advocating peace talks and the political settlement of the problem.”

China last week published a paper asking for peace negotiations to end the year-long conflict that outlined its 12-point “political solution” to the problem. Leaders in the West, however, denounced its release and claimed China had already sided with Russia.

According to Belarusian official media, during their discussion on Wednesday, Lukashenko informed Xi that Belarus completely supports Beijing’s “latest” proposal.

Later, BelTA reported that Lukashenko added, “Today’s meeting is convened at a very difficult period which necessitates fresh nonstandard ways and competent political judgments.” “Their goal should be to avert global conflict that has no winners. You recently made it known to the global community in an unequivocal and straightforward manner.

Belarus has actively advocated for peace and completely backs your proposal for global security.

According to a statement from the Belarusian government, Lukashenko also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday and urged the two nations to “intensify” their ties.

“There are no issues off limits for cooperation. We work together in every way. Most importantly, we have never made it our goal to cooperate with or oppose third countries,” Lukashenko said to Li in the readout.

The strengthening of ties between Minsk and Beijing coincides with a long-term deterioration in Belarus’ relationships with the European Union and a possible effort to diversify its heavily dependent on Russia economy.

After Lukashenko permitted Russian soldiers to invade Ukraine through the 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) Ukrainian-Belarusian border north of Kyiv, the US and its allies imposed severe sanctions on the former Soviet state as retaliation for Moscow’s aggression.

The results of Lukashenko’s victory in the 2020 election, which triggered widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in the nation and were followed by a ruthless government crackdown, are likewise not recognized by the European Union.

Throughout the duration of the Ukrainian crisis, there have been worries that Belarus may once more serve as a base for a Russian advance or that Lukashenko’s own army will enlist. Lukashenko asserted there is “no way” his country would send soldiers into Ukraine until it is attacked before traveling to Moscow earlier this month.

China and Belarus have both previously made suggestions that the US does not want to see the conflict come to an end.

Before traveling to Moscow to speak with Putin, Lukashenko told reporters earlier this month that he wanted to see “peaceful negotiations” and that the US was keeping the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky from doing so.

He claimed that only the United States needed and desired the slaughter.

Similar claims have been made by Beijing. For example, Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, stated earlier this month at a security conference in Munich that China does not “add fuel to the fire” and is “against reaping benefits from this crisis,” alluding to common Chinese propaganda that the US is purposefully prolonging the war to further its own geopolitical interests and boost the profits of its arms manufacturers.

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