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Clara Ferreira Marques

The China-Russia Friendship Is Too Big To Fail

Nearly a year into Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the limits of the partnership between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are clearer. But so are the ties that bind them together.

From Moscow with love.

From Moscow with love.

Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Almost exactly a year ago, President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart Xi Jinping declared in Beijing that there were “no limits” to their friendship. Just under three weeks later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine, leaving China to grapple with the contradiction between the newly reinforced bond and a clear violation of its cardinal principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference.

What happened next was worse. Putin’s ill-conceived blitzkrieg turned rapidly into a quagmire, exposing his corrupt, brutal and poorly prepared armed forces. The attack triggered an unprecedented avalanche of sanctions against Russia, suddenly staring at a future of economic stagnation, and a global energy crisis. It turned fears of a more unified West into reality.