Xi and Lukashenka: motivated by synergy?

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenka paid a state visit to Beijing on Wednesday. Moscow's closest ally is under pressure due to the Western sanctions and hopes to increase its trade ties with China. Commentators speculate on the purpose of the meeting from the Chinese leadership's perspective.

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Krym.Realii (UA) /

China's transit window

Beijing can benefit from Lukashenka's visit, political commentator Vitaly Portnikov writes in Krym Realii:

“Lukashenka can always be used as a cover for cooperation with Putin himself, for example when it comes to decisions on arms deliveries. China's leadership could shy away from direct cooperation with Moscow so as to avoid Western sanctions. ... It is very important for China that Belarus does not fully participate in Russia's war against Ukraine and that new sanctions do not completely destroy Belarus's already weakened role as China's 'transit window'.”

Hromadske Radio (UA) /

Beijing playing a double game

Pavel Sverdlov, editor-in-chief of the Belarusian Euroradio, writes on the website of Hromadske Radio that joint assistance for Moscow was discussed during Lukashenka's visit to China:

“Verbally, China does not support Russia. But there is a political dimension to China's attitude to the war and a practical, business-like one, according to which China can supply weapons on the quiet. We should not forget that China profits from this. China and the US are important trading partners. It is not in China's interest to break off relations, but I do not see how China can be prevented from secretly supporting Russia today.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Ruthless attitude prevailing

If Beijing were to deliver weapons to Moscow it would constitute a point of no return, Berlingske believes:

“Irrespective of the disagreements with China, there has always been a feeling that behind the rhetoric this was a country that acts in a diplomatically rational way. This was the case in the first phase of the war in Ukraine, when China adopted a cautious role which was gradually replaced by a more ruthless attitude towards the conflict. ... Because between the lines of the messages coming out of China with regard to Ukraine, one sees a shift in favour of Russia. If China were to make the final move with arms deliveries, it would have to be isolated as much as possible. Because then the war over Ukraine will have entered a deadly spiral.”