Blinken: Xi’s Moscow Visit Provides ‘Diplomatic Cover’ For Putin To Continue War Crimes

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday blasted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to visit Moscow days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The court on Friday said Putin was “allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

But Blinken told reporters that Xi’s visit indicates “China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine, and instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes.”

Notably, neither China, Russia nor Ukraine are under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Biden has called the arrest warrant “justified,” adding that “it makes a very strong point,” while China has called it into question.

The court should “respect the jurisdictional immunity of a head of state under international law, prudently exercise its mandate in accordance with the law, interpret and apply international law in good faith, and not engage in politicization or use double standards,” China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

Xi is spending three days in Russia this week — his first trip abroad since he was reelected.

He met Putin Monday for talks that lasted over four hours, during which the Russian president was scheduled to brief him on the Ukraine war. The two will hold more discussions Tuesday across a range of issues.

Xi is looking to Russia as a source of energy to support its economy restarting following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, while Moscow sees the visit as a way to give Putin’s profile a boost.

Blinken said the U.S. expects China to repeat its call for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, which was part of the 12-point peace proposal it unveiled last month. While the U.S. supports several aspects of the plan, Blinken said, including around nuclear safety, a proposal must ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“Any plan that does not prioritize this critical principle is a stalling tactic at best or is merely seeking to facilitate an unjust outcome,” he said. “That is not constructive diplomacy.”

He added that a cease-fire without the removal of Russian troops from Ukraine would ultimately support the Kremlin’s objectives.

“It would recognize Russia’s attempts to seize a sovereign neighbor’s territory by force,” Blinken said. “It would enable Russia to further entrench positions in Ukraine. And a cease-fire now, without a durable solution, would allow President Putin to rest and refit his troops and then restart the war at a time more advantageous to Russia.”

The U.S. has warned Russia could launch an offensive later this spring and have raced to make sure Ukrainians are prepared to respond.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday traveled to Kyiv to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reaffirm his support for the country, amid Xi’s Moscow visit.