By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Chinese President Xi Jinping assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of Beijing’s support for Russia, which is invading Ukraine, prompting an angry response from Washington.
Thursday’s noticed diplomatic wrangling came as thousands of civilians were still trapped in the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk with a diminishing water supply.
The United Nations said an urgent situation was developing in the bunkers beneath the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians and soldiers were hiding in the key eastern city.
Russia’s military captured most of Severodonetsk as part of its strategy to take over Ukraine’s entire Donbas region. As fighting escalated, the U.S. pledged another $1 billion of weapons aid to Ukraine, President Joe Biden said.
Kyiv claims more advanced weapons could make a difference, an assessment echoed by U.S. General Mark Milley, who said Russians lost roughly 20-30 percent of their armored force in Ukraine.
While the West has condemned Russia’s ongoing invasion, China’s Xi reportedly told Russia’s Putin that Beijing would keep backing Moscow on “sovereignty and security.”
China is “willing to continue to offer mutual support (to Russia) on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security,” Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying.
Soon after, the U.S. State Department warned that nations that side with President Putin on Ukraine will be “on the wrong side of history.”
“China claims to be neutral, but its behavior makes clear that it is still investing in close ties to Russia,” a US State Department spokesperson added.
However, China has declined to condemn the Russian invasion and increased military and economic cooperation with Moscow.
Beijing is already Moscow’s largest trading partner, with trade volumes last year hitting $147 billion, according to Chinese customs data, up more than 30 percent in 2019.
The two sides last week unveiled the first road bridge linking the two countries, connecting the far eastern Russian city of Blagoveshchensk with the northern Chinese city of Heihe.
Wednesday’s call between the nation’s two leaders fell on Xi’s 69th birthday and was their first reported communication since the day after Russia launched its invasion.
Xi praised the “good momentum of development” in bilateral relations since the start of the year “in the face of global turmoil and changes.”
Beijing wants to “intensify strategic coordination between the two countries,” Xi reportedly said.
China seeks to “strengthen communication and coordination” with Russia in international organizations and “push the international order and global governance towards more just and reasonable development,” he added.
Beijing and Moscow view their stepped-up cooperation as a counterbalance to what they see as US global dominance.
The European Union and the United States have warned that helping Moscow to dodge Western sanctions would damage ties with China.
However, China as well as India, are the two major economies that refuse to participate in retaliatory measures against Moscow over its invasion.
Chinese officials have reportedly said that the Europeans allowed themselves “to be sucked into backing Ukraine” at Washington’s initiative, contrary to their interests as Russian energy consumers.
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