After Biden-Xi Call, Russia’s Lavrov Predicts Moscow-Beijing ‘Engagement Will Strengthen’

By Patrick Goodenough | March 21, 2022 | 4:16am EDT
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2018. (Photo by Naohiko Hatta / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2018. (Photo by Naohiko Hatta / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Cooperation between Russia and China will only increase, because the West is disrupting the foundations of the international system, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the weekend, after President Biden in a video call urged Chinese President Xi Jinping not to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This engagement will strengthen,” the state news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying at a national management competition.

“In the conditions when the West rudely undermines the pillars on which the global system rests, of course, we need to think how two great powers will continue to be in the world.”

Lavrov, who has served as the Kremlin’s foreign minister for 18 years, mocked the U.S. for thinking it could apply pressure on other powerful countries, “to demand that these countries end cooperation with Russia under the threat of sanctions.”

“We would understand if they did this with small countries,” he said. “But when such ultimatums and demands are given to China, India, Egypt, or Turkey, it looks like our American colleagues have totally lost touch with reality, or their superhuman complex has overwhelmed their sense of normalcy.”

In a separate interview with the pro-Kremlin RT network, Lavrov touched on the subject again.

“There are players who would never accept the global village under the American sheriff, and China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico – I am sure these countries do not want to be just in the position where Uncle Sam orders them something and they say ‘Yes, sir,’” he said.

President Biden talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping by secure video link on Friday. (Photo: White House)
President Biden talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping by secure video link on Friday. (Photo: White House)

After Friday’s Biden-Xi conversation, the White House said in a readout the president had “detailed our efforts to prevent and then respond to the invasion, including by imposing costs on Russia.”

“He described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians,” it said.

A senior administration official briefing on background after the call declined to spell out what consequences Biden had laid out for Xi during the two-hour interaction.

“The president described the implications, you know, if China provides material support to Russia as it prosecutes this brutal war,” the official said. “But I’m not going to talk – I’m not going to, sort of, publicly lay out our options from here.”

A Chinese government readout of the call gave no indication that Xi had given any assurances to Biden, but did indicate that in Beijing’s view it was up to Biden to bring the conflict to an end.

“He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off,” it cited Xi as saying, invoking a Chinese proverb.

In addition to reports that Russia has looked to China for help – reports denied by both countries – Beijing has pointedly not condemned President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and has also sided with Moscow’s stance on NATO expansion posing a threat to Russia.

When officials have expressed concern for Ukrainians facing a humanitarian disaster and the flood of refugees fleeing from the fighting, they have invariably coupled it with criticism of U.S. foreign policy, pointing to NATO’s intervention in the Balkans or U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“When professing its concern for the welfare of the Ukrainian people, shouldn’t the U.S. first express concern over the civilian casualties caused by all these military operations?” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian asked at a briefing several hours before the Biden-Xi call.

On Saturday, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng used an address to a security forum to set out again China’s view that “Cold War mentality and power politics” lie at the root of the “crisis” in Ukraine.

“A NATO commitment of no eastward expansion could have easily ended the crisis and stopped the sufferings,” Le said. “Instead, one chose to fan the flames at a safe distance, watching its own arms dealers, bankers and oil tycoons make a fortune out of the war while leaving people of a small country with the wounds of war that would take years to heal.”

“This is highly immoral and irresponsible,” he said.

Le also condemned the U.S.-led campaign of economic sanctions introduced in response to Russia’s invasion, saying history had shown repeatedly that imposing sanctions was like “putting out fire with firewood” and would only make matters worse.

“Sanctions against Russia are now going to such lengths that globalization is being used as a weapon,” Le said. “Even people from sports, cultural, art and entertainment communities are not spared, cats and trees are sanctioned, and the overseas assets of Russian citizens have been seized groundlessly.”

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