China blames U.S. for war in Ukraine, even as it appears increasingly uncomfortable with standing by Russia

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

China appeared to be less than thrilled with the aggressive military actions taken in Ukraine on Thursday by President Xi Jinping’s self-described “best friend,” Vladimir Putin.

At a briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed that “China did not wish to see what happened in Ukraine today,” and deflected allegations that Beijing was providing backing for the attack, The Washington Post reports. “As for American hints that Russia had China backing it up, I’m sure Russia would be pleased to hear it,” Hua said. “We won’t be like America and provide Ukraine a large amount of military equipment. Russia as a powerful nation also does not need China or other countries to provide [military assistance].”

China remains in an unenviable position of trying to balance calls for restraint and calm with its friendly relations with Moscow. The nation’s proxies attempted again on Thursday to express both acknowledgment of Ukraine’s territorial integrity as well as Russia’s “reasonable security concerns,” the Post adds.

China has also blamed the U.S. for the deterioration of relations. ​​”A key question here is what role the U.S., the culprit of current tensions surrounding Ukraine, has played,” Hua said on Wednesday. “If someone keeps pouring oil on the flame while accusing others of not doing their best to put out the fire, such kind of behavior is clearly irresponsible and immoral.”

As Samuel Goldman writes for The Week, though, China’s discomfort with Russia’s aggression could drive a wedge between the two friendly nations. “In particular, the [Biden] administration may hope to make China squeamish about providing further support to a disruptive actor,” he writes. “Despite friendly joint statements issued on the opening day of the Winter Olympics, there are hints that the Chinese authorities worry Russia will go too far in provoking the United States and European Union.”

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