By Horst Teubert and Dr. Peer Heinelt
The background is efforts to defend the West’s global dominance. China and Russia are negotiating to end the Ukraine war. The West rejects attempts to find a solution.
Politicians worldwide are reacting in sharply divergent ways to the meeting that ended yesterday between the presidents of China and Russia and their negotiations on ending the Ukraine war.
Ukrainian government officials say they remain open to talks with Beijing.
Brazil’s President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva calls reports of the meeting “good news” and will follow up on negotiations next week in China.
Adverse reactions have come from the West, including German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who claims Beijing’s push toward peace talks is wholly inappropriate.
The background is that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin explored the possibility of ending the Ukraine war in Moscow, initiated an expansion of their cooperation, and challenged previous Western dominance over the world.
Because China, in particular, has “both the intent” and the potential to “reshape the international order,” Washington must “compete it away,” according to the U.S. National Security Strategy.
AGAINST DOMINANCE, FOR MULTIPOLARITY
China and Russia agreed to expand their cooperation at the meeting of their presidents, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, which began Monday in Moscow and ended yesterday.
For example, both countries want to cooperate even more closely economically than before.
The People’s Republic already receives significantly more crude oil and natural gas from Russia than before – volumes that once flowed to Germany – while at the same time exporting considerably more goods.
For example, China’s automotive companies now have a market share of around one-third in Russia, replacing German producers.
Beijing and Moscow also want to intensify their strategic cooperation and have signed agreements to this end.
Even closer military cooperation, for example, in maneuvers, is planned. This is linked to the claim to overcome the West’s outdated global dominance, which is already weakening.
In an article published in a Russian newspaper before the meeting, Xi criticized the West’s striving for “hegemony” and “dominance” as well as its “harassment” of other states.
The “historical trend” toward “multipolarity, economic globalization, and more democracy in international relations” has long been “irreversible.”
READY FOR PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
An important topic in the Moscow talks was not least the Ukraine war and Chinese considerations on how to end it.
On February 24, Beijing presented a twelve-point paper “on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis” that demands concessions from both sides.
For example, it gives priority to the “sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all countries” but also demands that “a country’s security” must always be pursued following the “legitimate security interests and concerns of other countries.”
The former is a Ukrainian demand, the latter a Russian one.
Putin now reiterated in Moscow that they had “carefully studied” the Chinese paper, welcomed Beijing’s desire to play “a constructive role” in ending the war, and were also ready for peace negotiations – “as soon as possible,” according to a statement issued after the Moscow talks concluded.
Xi warned against exaggerated hopes, pointing out there is “no simple solution to a complex issue.”
However, he also mentioned that “most countries” support reducing tensions and initiating peace negotiations and oppose pouring more and more oil on the fire.
Voices calling for “peace and rationality” were increasing, he said.
Reactions to the Chinese push have been mixed. Ukraine has so far kept an open mind.
Already after the publication of the Chinese twelve-point paper, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that while Kyiv rejects an immediate lifting of sanctions as proposed by China, it agrees on other points and wants to examine the document closely.
Last Thursday, Kuleba and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang exchanged views by phone on a possible peace settlement.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly reiterated that he is interested in negotiations with the People’s Republic.
A telephone conversation between him and Xi following the Moscow meeting has been considered possible for several days.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has classified the reports of talks between Xi and Putin as “good news.”
Lula announced several weeks ago that he wanted to win over neutral states in the Ukraine war for peace negotiations and said that, in his view, these states should include India, Indonesia, and China.
On Sunday, Lula will arrive in Beijing, where he will hold talks with Xi in the coming week, not least on a negotiated solution to the Ukraine war.
NO CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE
Opposing reactions can be heard from Western countries.
On Sunday, the U.S. National Security Council communications director, John Kirby, had already said that should Xi and Putin propose a ceasefire during their meeting, this would be “unacceptable” to the U.S.
It would cement Russia’s gains in terrain.
This position aligns with the fact that the West is betting on a Ukrainian spring offensive and supporting it, among other things, with the delivery of weapons and ammunition.
Great Britain even wants to provide uranium ammunition for this purpose. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius had said in advance that he hoped Xi could “convince Putin.
After Putin had declared his willingness to do so, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced that she was “disappointed” with the results of the Moscow meeting.
The twelve-point paper presented by China, which served as the basis for the talks between Xi and Putin, could “not make any real contribution to peace” because it did not explicitly name Russia as the aggressor.
Neither Kirby nor Baerbock explained why they invalidated Ukraine’s negotiating interest, whose political plans they otherwise officially made the norm.
COMPETE AWAY CHINA
At the same time, Western politicians concede that the current conflict has long since ceased to be merely about Ukraine but the previous global dominance of Western powers.
This has been apparent since three-quarters of all states worldwide refused to join the West’s Russia sanctions last spring; they are still sticking to them today.
Kirby declared over the weekend that Russia and China wanted to “rewrite the rules of the game worldwide”; he left no doubt that Washington would oppose this.
That the People’s Republic has “both the intent” and the potential to “reshape the international order” is a central view in the new U.S. National Security Strategy, released in October.
The U.S. document says it will therefore be necessary to “compete down” China in the future.
The urgency has intensified considerably from the U.S. perspective since Beijing recently successfully mediated the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
By resuming diplomatic relations between the two hostile states – China achieved a success that is considered a breakthrough in world politics.
A possible success in ending the Ukraine war would be another global political breakthrough for Beijing.
The West will want to prevent it.
This post was published first here.