Summit of giants

The summit meeting of Russian and Chinese leaders over Ukraine has sent shivers down the spine in the West

March 23, 2023


The summit meeting of Russian and Chinese leaders has sent shivers down the spine in the West. The meeting over Ukraine is being seen as a major breakthrough, as the conflict enters into its 13th month, literally choking supply chain of food and energy across Europe and Asia. The debut visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow, after being elected for a third term, is a signal that Beijing is conscious of regional realities, and cementing of ties with Russia has opened a new vista of its foreign policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart reportedly discussed Beijing’s proposal for a ceasefire in Ukraine, which will see de-escalation and gradual return to normalcy. Not much is known what will be the future status of the war-torn Ukraine, if guns are silenced instantly.

Xi’s proactive diplomacy has stirred a debate in the United States and West. Firstly, Washington is concerned that Beijing’s patting on Moscow’s shoulder will embolden it, and will come as a reward for its aggression over Kyiv. Secondly, the Chinese proposal is seen as a ploy to help Putin buy time to regroup his forces and solidify his grip at the mouth of Western Europe. Last but not least, the hint from Xi that he will speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has disturbed the power mosaic, as Chinese influence might lead to convincing Kyiv to adopt a camp-free approach in realpolitik. Thus, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s castigation of Xi is understandable as it is leading to an alliance of the giants in the region.

There is no need for the West to be irked with Chinese mediation, if it leads to a stand-down. Similar efforts by the Americans and Europeans were evident in the past, but with the only difference that they tried to push the strategic envelope of retaining Ukraine in the European Union camp. What is desired at the moment is cessation of hostilities along with a perpetual solution to the war in the heartland of Europe. Xi has churned wonders in the Mideast, and it is time to test his mantle in Europe.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2023.

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