Russian President Vladimir Putin (right), and Chinese President Xi Jinping (left), shake hands followng their talks at The Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (Mikhail Tereshchenko, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian and Chinese Leaders Meet Amidst Conflict

In the ongoing international conflict between Russia and Ukraine, negotiations have been made that have the potential to either exacerbate or diminish the struggle.

From March 20th to March 23rd, the president of China, Xi Jinping (he/him), traveled to Russia to meet with Russian president, Vladimir Putin (he/him), on the matter of de-escalation of the conflict. Just days prior, China oversaw a diplomatic peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That, alongside the mutual respect Putin and Xi have for each other, were the catalyst for this meeting being arranged. Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued warrants for the arrests of Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova (she/her), Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s rights, for their displacement and deportation of children as collateral in the Russo-Ukranian War just a few days prior, the meeting happened with little interference.

Contrary to what would likely be expected with this meeting, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy (he/him), has been relatively genteel in his comments about China and president Xi. Although Russia’s biggest ally is China, Ukraine also has financial and military relations to the nation. However, the meeting of two authoritarian leaders over military matters was not particularly well received with the international crowd. In particular, President Joe Biden (D, he/him), noted his concern over the meeting, while being tentative to cast blame onto China, stating “I don’t take China lightly, I don’t take Russia lightly, but I think we greatly exaggerate.” While Biden has been no stranger to criticizing the Russian government, and Putin specifically, his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (he/him) has welcomed an exchange between Zelenskyy and Xi, stating, “We believe that President Xi himself should hear directly the Ukrainian perspective and not just the Russian perspective.”

No such meeting has been arranged between Zelenskyy and Xi up to this point, but no action has been taken by Xi to escalate the conflict on either side, and there has been no majorly publicized communication between Zelenskyy, Putin, and Xi since the Chinese president left Russia on March 23rd.

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