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Zhang Hanhui, China’s ambassador to Moscow, touted his country’s close relationship with Russia and accused the U.S. of being responsible for the “Ukrainian crisis” in an interview Wednesday with the Russian state-owned news agency Tass.
“As the architect and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continues to supply arms and military equipment to Ukraine,” Zhang told the Russian news agency.
“Its ultimate aim is to exhaust and ruin Russia with a long war and a sanction stick.”
Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 5,400 civilians and displaced more than 10 million people, according to the United Nations.
Five months into the war, fighting has coalesced in the eastern Donbas region as Ukrainian troops try to hold back Russia from gaining any more ground.
Putin sought to strengthen relations with China in the lead-up to the invasion, visiting Beijing during the Winter Olympics and declaring in a 5,000-word joint statement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the two countries’ partnership has “no limits.”
“Under the strategic direction of [China’s] Chairman Xi Jinping and President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin, the Chinese-Russian relations have entered the best period in history, characterized by the highest level of mutual trust, the highest degree of interaction and the greatest strategic significance,” Zhang told Tass.
While China appears to support Putin’s reasoning for the war, the country has so far declined to provide any direct military assistance or helped the Kremlin dodge sanctions, U.S. officials have said.
The statements from China’s envoy to Russia come amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China over Taiwan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan earlier this month, prompting the Chinese military to stage live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait after she left.