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Ukraine War: How China stood by ‘no limits’ partner Russia

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Ukraine War: How China stood by ‘no limits’ partner Russia

Ukraine War: How China stood by ‘no limits’ partner Russia

Nearly a year has passed since Russia invaded Ukraine, which came just weeks after Beijing and Moscow had declared a “no limits” partnership that sparked anxiety in the West.

Here are the implications for China as the war approaches its one-year anniversary on Feb. 24.

Beijing has provided diplomatic cover for Moscow, refraining from condemning its conduct or calling it an “invasion” – in line with the Kremlin, which describes the war as a “special military operation” designed to protect Russia’s own security.

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While China has repeatedly called for peace, President Xi Jinping has stood by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, resisting Western pressure to isolate Moscow.

China has also stepped up trade with Russia, and in particular has been a willing buyer of Russian energy exports, providing a lifeline to Russia’s sanctions-battered economy.

China’s support for Russia has deeply damaged goodwill with the West, hampering Beijing’s efforts to drive a wedge between Brussels and Washington, analysts have said.

Russia’s move on Ukraine initially appears to have caught China on the back foot, with Putin not warning Xi of his invasion plans when he visited Beijing at the start of the Winter Olympics last year, diplomats have said.

The war has also put China in an awkward position since respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries is a key plank of Beijing’s foreign policy.

The war has intensified Russia’s dependence on China, increasingly making Moscow the junior partner and strengthening Beijing’s leadership among emerging countries in opposition to the U.S.-led post-World War Two order, analysts have said.

“China is in it for self-interest, period. A weaker Russia is probably a Russia that can do more that serves their interests,” said Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

China has also lapped up imports of Russian crude oil priced below the global benchmark, with average daily crude oil imports from Russia increasing by about 45 per cent by value from the post-invasion period to December, Refinitiv data showed.

Beijing is concerned about an expansion of the U.S. security presence in the South China Sea.

By objecting to NATO expansion into what Russia considers its backyard, it sets the stage to object to further U.S. activity in China’s neighbourhood.

China has sought to avoid providing support to Russia that would invite sanctions upon itself, including refraining from providing weapons.

It has reacted angrily to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s warning not to provide weapons to Russia.

Beijing has also sought to put some rhetorical distance between itself and Moscow to avoid irreparable damage to relations with the West, and used its influence with Moscow to urge Putin not to use nuclear weapons.

China is playing a more active public role after months of advocating peace talks without taking direct action.

Xi is expected to deliver a “peace speech” on Friday, the anniversary of the invasion, and China will publish a position paper on the Ukraine conflict outlining its stance.

“With Russia’s failure on the battlefield, the chance is ripening for talks, in China’s view,” said Yun Sun, senior fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.

The appearance of shuttle diplomacy by Wang Yi, and the upcoming speech by Xi on this topic, alludes to this direction,” she said, referring to the visit this week to Moscow by China’s top diplomat after he met Blinken and other western officials during an ongoing trip to Europe.

Beijing has repeatedly opposed any linkage between the Ukraine war and its intentions to “reunify” with the self-ruled island that it claims as its territory.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on Tuesday urged “some countries” to “stop hyping up ‘today Ukraine, tomorrow Taiwan’,” in an apparent dig at the United States.

But many experts have said that China is no doubt taking into account Russia’s military setbacks in Ukraine, as well as the response of other countries, as it weighs its long-term thinking towards democratically ruled Taiwan, which it has vowed to take control of, by force if necessary.

The result and the cost of the war show the Chinese that an invasion is Taiwan may not be prudent,” said Sun.

“It doesn’t mean they will refrain from it if Taiwan declares independence.

“But the chance of them taking the initiative is smaller.”

Ukraine War: How China stood by ‘no limits’ partner Russia

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Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

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Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns
Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

U.S. President Joe Biden closed a three-day NATO summit in Washington on Thursday by reaffirming his commitment to a robust NATO, amid a press conference that also touched on U.S. politics and concerns about his mental fitness.

Biden, 81, is facing calls to step aside for another Democratic candidate in the upcoming presidential race due to fears of mental decline. The Republican Party is expected to nominate former President Donald Trump, 78, at its convention starting Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Biden criticized Trump’s stance on NATO, stating, “My predecessor has made it clear he has no commitment to NATO. He’s made it clear that he would feel no obligation to honor Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which commits all allies to respond if one is attacked. But I made it clear a strong NATO is essential to American security. And I believe the obligation of Article 5 is sacred.”

“I will not bow down to Putin. I will not walk away from Ukraine. I will keep NATO strong,” Biden emphasized.

The summit concluded with NATO leaders announcing increased military support for Ukraine, including air-defense systems and a pledge to spend 40 billion euros ($43 billion) next year. They also affirmed Ukraine’s irreversible path to NATO membership.

Additionally, the U.S. and Germany announced the deployment of long-range cruise missiles to Germany to bolster NATO’s deterrence in Europe.

Despite these announcements, Biden’s closing press conference was dominated by questions about the upcoming presidential election and his candidacy. When asked if he could still handle Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the future, Biden replied, “I’m dealing with Xi right now and (I’m in) direct contact with him. I have no good reason to talk to Putin right now. There’s not much that he is prepared to do in terms of accommodating any change in his behavior. I’m not ready to talk to Putin unless Putin’s ready to change his behavior.”

During the hour-long press conference, Biden occasionally struggled with his speech, at one point confusing Trump with Vice President Kamala Harris. When asked about Harris’ ability to beat Trump, he mistakenly said, “Look, I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, did I think she was not qualified to be president” (sic). He later asserted, “I think I’m the most qualified person to run for president.”

This followed an earlier gaffe where Biden introduced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin,” before quickly correcting himself.

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, in a separate press conference, defended Biden’s leadership, saying, “We have a bigger NATO, and more countries; we have a stronger NATO. We have a real sense of resolve. President Biden led through all of that.”

Finnish President Alexander Stubb also expressed confidence in Biden’s capabilities, stating, “I have absolutely no concerns about the capacity of the current president of the United States to lead his country and to lead our fight for Ukraine and to lead NATO. We human beings, when we’re treated in the public eye, we’re never as good as we sometimes look, and we’re never as bad.”

Biden Vows to Maintain NATO Strength Amid Election Concerns

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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

An Iraqi court on Wednesday sentenced the wife of the former top leader of the Islamic State (IS) group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to death.

According to Supreme Judicial Council statement, the Karkh Criminal Court issued the death verdict for the wife of the terrorist over joining the IS group and detaining the kidnapped Yazidi women in her house in west Mosul.

In 2019, the U.S. forces conducted a raid targeting al-Baghdadi in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, killing the IS leader.

Al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, established the IS in 2014.

The extremist militant group, which once captured large swathes of land in western and northern Iraq, was defeated in late 2017.

Iraqi court sentences former IS leader’s wife to death

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Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

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Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash at the weekend, is to be buried in his home city of Mashhad on Thursday.

Raisi is to be laid to rest at the city’s shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth imam of Shia Islam.

High-ranking representatives of friendly states are expected to attend, including Russian parliamentary leader Vyacheslav Volodin.

Iran’s state railway company has organised special trains to take mourners from Tehran to the north-eastern city.

There have been several ceremonies and public displays of mourning for Raisi, late foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other victims of Sunday’s crash.

Millions of mourners flocked to a funeral procession in Tehran on Wednesday.

Raisi and Amirabdollahian were killed in the crash with seven other occupants of the ill-fated helicopter.

They went down in dense cloud in the mountains while travelling back from a meeting with Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan.

Iran’s religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered five days of national mourning, and a nationwide holiday was held on Wednesday.

Raisi’s death has provoked mixed reactions in Iran.

While supporters of the country’s Islamic regime have mourned the loss of an important political figure, critics have highlighted the heightened repression his administration oversaw.

Iran’s late president Raisi to be buried in home city of Mashhad

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