Tough times

Russia’s prime minister signed a set of agreements with China during a trip to Beijing, describing bilateral ties at an unprecedented high, despite criticism of their relationship in the West as the war in Ukraine drags on. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the highest-ranking Russian official to visit Beijing since Moscow sent thousands of troops to Ukraine in February 2022, held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang.With the war in Ukraine in its second year and Russia increasingly feeling the weight of Western sanctions, Moscow is leaning on Beijing for support, far more than China on Russia, feeding on Chinese demand for oil and gas. The pressure from the West has shown no sign of easing, with the Group of Seven’s weekend declarations singling both countries out on a series of issues including Ukraine. The G7 agreed to tighten sanctions against Moscow and urged China to press Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.’Relations between Russia and China are at an unprecedented high level, Mishustin told Li in their meeting. They are characterised by mutual respect of each other’s interests, the desire to jointly respond to challenges, which is associated with increased turbulence in the international arena and the pressure of illegitimate sanctions from the collective West, he said.