China’s Defense Chief Offers Full Support to Russia on Ukraine War

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China’s defense minister, Dong Jun, gave his full support to Russia’s war in Ukraine during a video call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

China’s newly appointed defense chief and Shoigu discussed boosting military cooperation and coordination as the Russia-Ukraine war drags on. Tensions surrounding the Ukraine crisis have tested the resilience of the China-Russia partnership, with Beijing supporting the Kremlin’s plans economically rather than openly amid international pressure.

The Russian government released a video of Dong Jun’s message to Shoigu, in which he said China would stand with Russia on the Ukraine issue despite pressure from the U.S. and Europe.

“In recent years, the U.S. and the West world have been isolating Russia. We understand and care about Russia’s situation all the time, and we strongly support justice. We have supported you on the Ukrainian issue even though the U.S. and Europe continue to put pressure on the Chinese side. Even defense cooperation between China and the European Union has taken a hit, but we will not change or abandon our established policy because of this, and they should not and cannot hinder normal and long-term cooperation with Russia,” he said, according to a video of his interpreted remarks released online by Russia’s defense ministry.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping shaking hands during a meeting in Beijing on October 18, 2023. China’s new defense chief offered his full support to Russia on the Ukraine war.

AFP/WireImage

The readout of the meeting by China’s ministry of defense didn’t mention the comments about China’s support for Russia’s Ukraine war.

According to a statement released by China’s ministry, the two “exchanged views on international and regional issues of common interest,” emphasizing the need to implement the consensus reached by their respective heads of state.

Dong Jun articulated a vision for the two militaries to enhance strategic trust, expand practical cooperation, and elevate their military-to-military relationship, thereby contributing significantly to the deepening of China-Russia comprehensive strategic coordination and the maintenance of global security and stability.

Dong highlighted that the year 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, signaling an opportunity to further solidify their partnership against a backdrop of global challenges. China Daily reported Dong’s emphasis on the continuous strengthening of strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between their armed forces.

However, Shoigu made it clear that despite the growing cooperation, the relationship between China and Russia doesn’t constitute a formal military alliance.

He stated: “Unlike some Western countries, our two countries do not form a military bloc,” underscoring the unique nature of their partnership. Shoigu elaborated on the dynamic development of military relations through regular joint naval, air, and land combat training activities and complex combat exercises, highlighting a shared commitment to a robust strategic partnership in defense.

Furthermore, he expressed his anticipation for the “closest and most fruitful cooperation” with China, believing that their discussions would further strengthen the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership in defense. Sputnik News reported Shoigu’s positive outlook on future collaborations with his Chinese counterpart.

This support comes amid concerns over China’s military and logistical assistance to Russia, as highlighted by the Washington think tank the Atlantic Council’s analysis on November 15, 2023. The analysis pointed out that Chinese-made vehicles and equipment have played a crucial role in enabling Russian military operations in Ukraine, particularly during critical phases of the conflict.

Both nations hailed the current state of their relationship as the “best in history” under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin downplayed the comments by Dong when asked about it by a journalist on February 1.

“China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We hope all parties will strive to cool down the tensions and create favorable conditions for the political settlement of the crisis. This position has not changed,” Wang said during the daily press briefing.