(MOSCOW) The Russian and Chinese presidents on Wednesday demonstrated their “model” relationship during a video conference, amid full tension with the West, and Vladimir Putin confirmed his visit to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The cordial tone of the conversation, broadcast in part by Russian television, contrasts with Western criticism’s salute to Moscow, which is accused of preparing for the invasion of Ukraine, and against Beijing, over Chinese repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
Dithrambek, Vladimir Putin praised the quality of bilateral relations based on “non-interference”, “respect for the interests of each party” and “the determination to turn the common border into a belt of eternal peace and good neighborliness.”
“I consider these relations a true model of interstate cooperation in the twenty-first century,” the Russian president told his “dear friend” Xi Jinping.
Emphasizing the “vitality” of Russian-Chinese relations, the Chinese president considered that the two countries have become representatives of “true pluralism and the defense of international fairness and justice,” according to the Xinhua News Agency.
At the end of the Putin-Xi discussion, the Kremlin’s diplomatic advisor Yuri Ushakov noted that it was an exchange between “two colleagues and two friends.”
This proximity contrasts with the much less cordial talks that the Russian and Chinese leaders have been able to have in recent weeks with Joe Biden.
Beijing and Moscow also rejected the US President’s organization last week for a virtual summit on democracy, considering it a hostile process against them.
The Olympics and Politics
The Kremlin chief confirmed on Wednesday that the two men will meet “in person in Beijing” to mark the opening of the Winter Olympics (February 4-20).
The Chinese leader said he was “impatient”. The two allies have not seen each other face to face since the start of the pandemic.
The Russian president finally indicated that he and Xi Jinping oppose “any attempt to politicize sports and the Olympic movement.”
China has denounced the recent decision of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia not to send political representatives to the Olympics in response to human rights abuses, particularly in the Chinese Muslim-majority region (Northwest) Xinjiang.
Moscow sees this “diplomatic boycott” as an attempt to politicize the Games.
Russia also presents itself as a victim of the West’s anti-Russian policy in the field of sports.
For her, the multiple doping scandals that undermine her credibility are being exploited by her geopolitical opponents.
Russia has been accused since 2015 of masterminding an institutionalized doping regime, and its participation in major international competitions has been suspended until 2022.
However, “clean” Russian athletes are allowed to participate as neutral athletes and will be in Beijing.
Russian officials, including Mr. Putin, are prohibited from attending international competitions except at the invitation of the head of the host country. This will be the case in Beijing.
Tensions with the West
Despite a backlog of reports and testimonies from whistleblowers and scientific analyses, Moscow denies it has set up a state doping regime, claiming these are individual abuses.
For its part, China is regularly criticized by Washington and its allies over Taiwan, the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority, or the restriction of political freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong.
Moscow and Beijing have seen their respective relations with the West deteriorate over the years and want to project the image of two united states as a counterweight.
Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the two countries have strengthened their relations in the fields of economy, defense and energy.
Russia is currently under criticism from the West for its maneuvers on the Ukrainian border, which has caused some to fear an invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow responds, saying it is threatened by NATO’s increased military presence in Eastern Europe and its support for Kiev.
The issue will be on the table of the European Union summit on Wednesday with the former Soviet republics within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, which Moscow views bleakly.
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