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China says it wants more cooperation with Russia’s military

A general view of the Russian military frigate "Admiral Gorshkov" docked at the port in Richards Bay on Feb. 22, 2023. (Guillem Sartorio/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

China said it wants closer ties with Russia’s military, a sign Moscow still has Beijing’s support after the aborted Wagner mutiny.

Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu said in a meeting Monday with Nikolai Yevmenov, commander-in-chief of Russia’s navy, that “with the joint efforts of both sides, the relations between the two militaries will continue to deepen and solidify, constantly make new progress and reach a new level.”

Li said he hoped the two navies could strengthen communication, regularly hold joint exercises and “expand practical cooperation,” according to a statement from Defense Ministry in Beijing.

The comments add to signs Beijing is shoring up ties with Moscow in the wake of the Wagner mercenary group’s uprising last month, the biggest ever threat to Vladimir Putin’s rule. China’s Foreign Ministry said shortly afterward that it supported Russia’s actions to maintain national stability, and Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko.

China has maintained ties with Putin since he ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine early last year, and has refused to join U.S.-led sanctions over the war. Beijing and Moscow share a mutual interest in challenging U.S. dominance in the world order, as they face increasingly fraught ties with wealthy democracies.

Li was sanctioned by Washington in 2018 over a Russian arms purchase, and China has refused to resume high-level military dialog with the U.S. until those curbs are lifted.


© 2023 Bloomberg L.P

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