Chinese state media says President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his country’s close ties to Russia during a phone call Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi told his Russian counterpart that it supports a negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine, according to both Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV.
A statement by the Kremlin said that the Chinese leader “noted the legitimacy” of Russia’s actions to protect its “fundamental national interests in the face of challenges to its security created by external forces.”
Xi and Putin signed a wide-ranging cooperation pact in February on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics under which the two sides pledged there would be “no limits” on their partnership.
The pact was signed weeks before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. China has refused to criticize Russia over its actions in Ukraine, even so far as not to describe it as an invasion.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department criticized China’s stance when asked by VOA’s East Asia Pacific division Wednesday. The spokesperson said while China claims to be neutral, “its behavior makes clear that it is still investing in close ties to Russia.”
The spokesperson said Beijing continues to echo Russian propaganda around the world, shield Moscow in international organizations, and continues to deny evidence of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine “by suggesting instead that they were staged.”
“The world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty, and who stands by or tacitly supports Russia in its premeditated and unprovoked war of choice,” the spokesman said.