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Russia becomes aggravated by lack of Chinese aid

It has been reported that Russia has become increasingly aggravated by a lack of support from China to aid in its military assault on Ukraine.


This comes at a time when Ukraine is receiving more support than ever in its aim to defend its sovereignty and push the Russians out of Eastern Europe. This week there were reports that the United States was doing a U-turn on not sending “rocket systems that strike into Russia” to Ukraine and bolster their defence against Russia. However, despite Russian requests, China has refused to further the Russian campaign.


Since the start of the conflict, China has been ambiguous on its stance toward Russia and its invasion. Contrary to much of the world, China has refused to denounce Russia’s actions and has legitimised Russia’s genuine security concerns surrounding Ukraine. Furthermore, the nation has profited off buying more cheap Russian oil than ever before. In contrast, Western attempts to weaken the Russian war machine have hypothetically led to a significant drop in demand for Russian energy sources.


China, unlike nations like Japan, the US, and the states of the European Union, also declined to impose economic sanctions on Russia. With Russian banks cut from the SWIFT financial messaging service and using the Chinese renminbi as its main currency for international trade, it could be that Russia is preparing to use the Chinese equivalent of SWIFT, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS).


However, what has infuriated the Kremlin is China’s strategy of sitting on the fence when it comes to military and technological aid in this conflict. The reluctance to provide aid directly opposes what the rest of the world has done for Ukraine. It's been said that Russia is growing impatient as the war and sanctions are draining economic resources and Beijing is the only ‘ally’ that can remedy the situation at this stage.


From China’s point of view, it has more to contend with than just concerns pertaining to Russia. Coinciding with the start of the invasion, Chinese economic government organisations ran ‘stress tests’ to see how China’s economy would cope under sanctions. China's economic growth in the last 30 years has been forged in exports to countries like Japan, the UK and Germany. The destinations of the exports, making up 20% of China’s GDP, are also nations that have placed economic sanctions on Russia and provided military aid to Ukraine.


Despite a shared negative view of the United States and suspicion over Western intervention, China cannot afford to be clubbed together with Russia by sanctions. The White House has already threatened ‘consequences’ against any nation aiding the Russian military. Such a precedent would likely be echoed by European nations. As a state whose economy is deeply integrated with international markets, it is far too much of a risk for China to be locked out by sanctions and have relationships cut.


For China, sidestepping Russian demands while utilising the useful aspect of its relationship with Russia, such as cheap oil highlights how this isn’t a two-way relationship. Russia must play ball with China to avoid not being cut off by almost all major world economies and realise that its position to China is subordinate, given the current disparity in resources and relationship.


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