March 4. 2024. 5:25

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US says Xi’s visit to Putin gives ‘diplomatic cover’ for Russian war crimes

The United States condemned Chinese president Xi Jinping for visiting Russia just days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for its leader, Vladimir Putin, over war crimes allegedly committed during his invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Xi and Mr Putin called each other “dear friend” and hailed deepening bilateral relations when they met in the Kremlin on Monday, and did not publicly mention the ICC’s allegation that the Russian president is responsible for the deportation of thousands of children from Ukraine.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Mr Xi’s visit “suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine, and instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes.”

Weeks before Mr Putin poured troops into Ukraine last February, Moscow and Beijing declared their relationship had “no limits”, and Russia has become heavily reliant on China diplomatically and economically as the war has deepened its rift with the West.

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US says Xi’s visit to Putin gives ‘diplomatic cover’ for Russian war crimes


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Mr Xi hailed his host’s “strong leadership” and Mr Putin lauded China’s “colossal leap ahead in its development”, adding that “we even feel a bit envious.”

China recently unveiled a broad ceasefire initiative for Ukraine but has not condemned Russia’s invasion, and the US says it is considering supplying arms to Moscow – a claim Beijing denies.

Mr Putin said they would “discuss ... your initiative, which we highly respect,” and praised Russia-China co-operation for “helping strengthen the basic principles of the global order”.

The Kremlin said the leaders had dinner and spoke for a total of 4½ hours on Monday, and wider talks are scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, European Union states agreed on a €2 billion plan to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine, and the US announced $350 million (€326 million) in new military aid for Kyiv.