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How a subpoena against Putin made a new twist on Xi’s visit to Russia

WASHINGTON: President of China Xi JinpingPlans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week have highlighted China’s aspirations for a greater role on the world stage. But they also reveal the dangers of global diplomacy: Hours after the announcement of the trip on Friday, an international arrest guaranteed was issued to Putin on War Crimes charge, at least bring some wind from the sails of China’s big reveal.
A series of developments – following China’s mediating of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran resumed diplomatic relations and announced what they called a “peace plan” for Ukraine – comes as the Biden administration cautiously watches Beijing’s moves to assert itself more strongly in international affairs.
US President Joe Biden on Friday said he believes the decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague to accuse Putin is “justifiable”. Speaking to reporters as he left the White House for his home in Delaware, he said that Putin “clearly committed war crimes”.
While the United States does not recognize the courts, Biden said they have “very strong reasons” to criticize the Russian leader for his actions in ordering the invasion of Ukraine.
Other US officials privately expressed satisfaction that an international body has agreed with Washington’s assessment that Russia has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Asked about the Xi-Putin meeting, Biden said, “Well, we’ll see when that happens.”
According to two US officials, the Biden administration believes that China’s desire to be seen as a peace mediator between Russia and Ukraine could be taken more seriously when Putin is officially a war crime suspect. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the administration hopes the orders will help mobilize the historically neutral states to balance mention the conflict.
Consider the Putin meeting and how it might be affected by this order.
The visit to Russia will be Xi’s first foreign trip since being elected to an unprecedented third term as China’s president. It comes as Beijing and Moscow have strengthened ties in steps that began just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the meeting between the two leaders in Beijing during last year’s Winter Olympics, at which they announced an “unlimited” partnership.
Since then, China has repeatedly sided with Russia in preventing international action against Moscow in the Ukraine conflict and, US officials said, is considering supplying Russia with weapons to assist. fight. But it has also attempted to play a more neutral role, offering a peace plan that has been largely ignored.
The Moscow meeting is likely to see the two sides recommit to their partnership, which both see as important to counter what they see as undue and undeserved influence. caused by the United States and its Western allies.
In the short term, the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin and one of his aides is unlikely to have a major impact on the meeting or China’s stance on Russia. Neither China nor Russia — nor the United States or Ukraine — have ratified the treaty establishing the ICC. The United States, beginning with the Clinton administration, declined to join the court, out of concern that its broad mandate could lead to prosecution of American troops or officials.
That means none of the four countries officially recognize court jurisdiction or are bound by court orders, although Ukraine has agreed to allow some ICCs to investigate crimes on the Internet. its territory and the United States has cooperated with ICC investigations.
In addition, it is highly unlikely that Putin will travel to a country bound by obligations to the ICC. If he did, would that country actually arrest him? There is precedent for former indictors, particularly former Sudanese President Omar Bashir, to visit ICC members without being detained.
However, the stain of the arrest warrant could be brought against China and Russia in a court of public opinion, and Putin’s international standing could suffer unless the charges are withdrawn or he is acquitted.
American officials have been wordless when it comes to Mr. Xi’s planned visit to Moscow. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called Beijing’s push for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine “a ratification of Russian conquest” and warned that the Russians could use the cease-fire to regroup their positions “so they can restart attacks on Ukraine at a time of their choosing.”
“We do not believe this is a step towards a just and lasting peace,” he said. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, this week called on Xi to speak with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Ukrainian leader also expressed interest in talks with Xi.
Speaking before the ICC order was announced, Ukrainian analysts warned against falling into a potential trap ahead of the Xi-Putin meeting. “We need to keep in mind that such peace talks are a trap for Ukraine and,” said Yurii Poita, head of the Asia division at the Kyiv-based New Geopolitical Research Network. diplomatic missions of this country.
“Under such conditions, these peace negotiations will not lead to peace,” said Nataliia Butyrska, a Ukrainian political analyst on East Asia. She said the visit did not reflect much of China’s desire for peace but rather a desire to play an important role in any possible post-conflict resolution.
“China does not clearly distinguish who is the aggressor and who is the victim. And when a country initiates peacekeeping operations or at least seeks to help the parties, not making this distinction compromises objectivity,” Butyrska said. “In my view, China seeks to freeze the conflict.”
Even if China stops providing military support to Russia because of fear of the United States and its allies, Moscow sees Xi’s visit as a strong signal of China’s support, challenging efforts of the West to isolate Russia and deal crippling blows to its economy.
Kremlin spokesman Yuri Ushakov noted that Putin and Xi have a “very friendly and trustworthy personal relationship,” and praised Beijing’s peace plan. “We appreciate the Chinese leadership’s restrained and balanced stance on this issue,” Ushakov said.
Observers say that although China acts as a mediator, its refusal to condemn Russia’s actions leaves no doubt about Beijing’s sympathy.
Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “China’s peace plan is a fig leaf to push back against some of the West’s criticism of its support for Russia. “The scene it created was that China had a plan for peace, both warring sides endorsed that plan and were willing to explore opportunities and it was subsequently killed by the hostile West.”
Chinese officials have bragged about their new-found influence on the international stage as their country’s foreign policy becomes increasingly assertive under Xi Jinping.
In announcing Xi’s visit, China’s foreign ministry said Beijing’s relationship with Moscow was an important world force. “As the world enters a new period of turmoil and change, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and an important power, the importance and influence of China’s relations China-Russia is far beyond bilateral,” it wrote.
The newspaper called the visit “a journey of friendship, deepening the mutual trust and understanding between China and Russia, and strengthening the political and public opinion foundation of the people-to-people friendship.” two countries over many generations”.

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