Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing Friday for the Winter Olympics, where as expected he had a warm meeting, among a series of expected sit-downs, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was their first face-to-face in nearly two years. The two used the opportunity for a full court press on NATO, issuing a joint statement urging for the Western military alliance to halt its expansion.
The lengthy statement doesn't directly invoke Ukraine, but calls on NATO countries to "abandon the ideological approaches of the Cold War". It described, "The sides believe that certain States, military and political alliances and coalitions seek to obtain, directly or indirectly, unilateral military advantages to the detriment of the security of others, including by employing unfair competition practices, intensify geopolitical rivalry, fuel antagonism and confrontation, and seriously undermine the international security order and global strategic stability."
Lots to parse in the 3,500-word joint statement issued by Xi and Putin this morning, but clear both leaders have each other's backs on Ukraine and Taiwan.— Zach Basu (@zacharybasu) February 4, 2022
"Friendship between the two states has no limits." https://t.co/m9IQ0r5h77
In this context, Beijing made clear its support for Moscow's ongoing efforts to engage the West in establishing legally binding security guarantees regarding NATO eastward expansion. Additionally, at a moment Washington has teased placing the 'nuclear option' on the table - cutting Russia off from SWIFT in the event of a Ukraine offensive - the Kremlin said "the presidents also discussed the need to broaden trade in national currencies because of unpredictability surrounding the use of the dollar," as Reuters notes.
Importantly, the statement included Russia taking a strong stance on key issues now stoking US-China tensions, notably Taiwan. "The sides stand against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States' Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region," the joint statement continued.
"The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan," it said, marking one of the clearest affirmations of Moscow's position on the matter to date.
Specifically it called out the US-Australia nuclear submarine deal: "The parties are seriously concerned about the creation by the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, or AUKUS, of a triangular security partnership," the statement added.
The occasion of the meeting during the 2022 Winter Olympics was used to cinch up a major 30-year gas deal which has been years in the making as well, as Reuters details:
Russia has agreed a 30-year contract to supply gas to China via a new pipeline and will settle the new gas sales in euros, bolstering an energy alliance with Beijing amid Moscow's strained ties with the West over Ukraine and other issues.
Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports by pipeline, agreed to supply Chinese state energy major CNPC with 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year, the Russian firm and a Beijing-based industry official said.
This in addition to supplies currently pumped to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, and as Russia has had a stated goal of supplying China with 38 bcm of gas by 2025.
As Putin and Xi again toast to what was described as a "very warm" meeting and growing friendship, American officials were completely absent from the Olympic games, having months ago declared a diplomatic boycott.