China Plays the Waiting Game on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis

China Plays the Waiting Game on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

Amid the looming threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western nations continue to use a wide-ranging toolkit of policy options, including diplomacy and security assistance, to avert the risk of a full-blown war in Eastern Europe. The U.K. is supplying short-range anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. Canada is deploying a unit of special operations forces. And a delegation of U.S. senators met Monday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, followed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken today. 

But while Western countries have reacted vocally to the buildup of 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, China has mostly kept silent.

Speaking in a press briefing Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian offered what Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese foreign policy, described on Twitter as “a diplomatic word salad,” revealing little about Beijing’s position. 

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