China calls US ‘main instigator’ of Ukraine crisis

LONDON (Reuters) – China, which Russia has sought as an ally since it received a cold reception from the West during its invasion of Ukraine, has called the United States the “main instigator” of the crisis.

In an interview with Russian state news agency TASS published on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui accused Washington of pushing Russia into a corner with repeated expansions of the defense alliance. of NATO and support for forces seeking to align Ukraine with the European Union. rather than Moscow.

“As the initiator and main instigator of the Ukraine crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continues to supply arms and military equipment to Ukraine,” Zhang said.

“Their ultimate goal is to wear down and crush Russia with protracted war and the cudgel of sanctions.”

The ambassador’s reasoning closely followed one of Russia’s own justifications for its invasion of Ukraine, which claimed thousands of lives and devastated entire cities, as well as pushed more than a quarter of the population to flee their homes.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing in February to meet President Xi Jinping as Russian tanks massed on the Ukrainian border, agreeing what the two states hailed as a “limitless” partnership superior to any cold war alliance.

In the interview, Zhang said that China-Russia relations have entered “the best period in history, characterized by the highest level of mutual trust, the highest degree of interaction and the greatest strategic importance.” .

He railed against US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week to self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own, and said the US was trying to apply the same tactic in Ukraine and Taiwan to “revive a cold war mentality, contain China”. and Russia, and provoke great power rivalry and confrontation”.

“Non-intervention in internal affairs is the most fundamental principle of maintaining peace and stability in our world,” Zhang said, applying the principle to criticize Washington’s Taiwan policy, but not the invasion. of Ukraine by Russia.

Russia calls the invasion a “special military operation” and says it was necessary not only to maintain its own security, but also to protect Russian speakers from persecution.

Ukraine and the West say these are baseless pretexts for a war of imperial aggression against a neighbor that gained independence when the Moscow-ruled Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

Christi C. Elwood