'Putin is crazy': China 'thinks Russia is going to fail in Ukraine'

‘Putin is crazy’: China ‘thinks Russia is going to fail in Ukraine and will emerge from the conflict a minor power’

  • Several Chinese officials warned Beijing must not ‘simply follow Russia’ in blind support for the war in Ukraine in a rare rebuke of Putin’s barbaric invasion
  • Officials said they believe Russia will fail to win the war in Ukraine amid setbacks
  • Comments mark significant turning point in supposedly amicable relations between Russia and China – a month after the countries vowed to deepen ties

Chinese officials have blasted Vladimir Putin as ‘crazy’ and claimed Beijing thinks Russia is going to fail in its war in Ukraine and will emerge from the conflict as a ‘minor power’.

Several Chinese officials warned Beijing must not ‘simply follow Russia’ and blindly support the war in Ukraine in a rare rebuke of Putin’s barbaric invasion.

The officials said they believe that Russia will fail to win the war in Ukraine – and the impact of such an expensive and deadly conflict will see Moscow emerge as a ‘minor power’ with a diminished economy and a poor standing on the world stage.

The scathing comments from the Chinese officials, with some accusing Putin of being ‘crazy’, mark a significant turning point in the supposedly amicable relations between Russia and China – just a month after the two countries vowed to deepen their bilateral ties.

It now appears that President Xi Jinping may be doing his best – through his officials – to distance himself from Putin and his war, as the Chinese leader now focuses on improving his diplomatic relations with the West. Pictured: Putin and Xi during a meeting in Beijing on February 4, 2022 – 20 days before Russia invaded Ukraine

Ukrainian army Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions in the frontline near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Wednesday

It now appears that President Xi Jinping may be doing his best – through his officials – to distance himself from Putin and his war, as the Chinese leader now focuses on improving his diplomatic relations with the West. 

‘Putin is crazy,’ one Chinese official told the Financial Times. ‘The invasion decision was made by a very small group of people. China shouldn’t simply follow Russia.’

Beijing now believes that it is likely that Russia will fail in its mission to win its war against Ukraine and will emerge from the conflict a ‘minor power’, Chinese officials said.

On the ground in Ukraine, Russia has been suffering a series of setbacks, with hundreds of soldiers killed in the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar amid fierce fighting. And to make matters worse for Moscow, Iran has reportedly slowed down its delivery of missiles to Russian forces on the front lines.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine almost 11 months ago, Xi has stopped short of publicly criticising Putin over the war – but in November he issued a direct warning to the Russian President not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine in his biggest public rebuke yet delivered to the Kremlin.   

And Chinese officials have now said that within the halls of power in Beijing, there is a distrust of Putin. They said that Moscow did not inform China that it would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine before Putin ordered the attack.

An official told the newspaper that Putin only told Xi that Russia ‘would not rule out taking whatever measures possible if eastern Ukraine separatists attack Russian territory and cause humanitarian disasters’.

This suggests that tensions between China and Russia have been brewing for some time in private. In public, China’s foreign ministry repeated Russian talking points about NATO expansionism, the West’s ‘Cold War mindset’, and castigated journalists for using the words ‘war’ or ‘invasion’.

Ukrainian soldiers on their positions in the frontline near Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on  Wednesday

But as Moscow’s forces have been mauled on the battlefield China’s tone has changed. At a summit in Uzbekistan in September, Putin was forced to publicly acknowledge that Xi had ‘questions and concerns’ after meeting with him.

Now, Xi is trying to distance himself from Putin and his war as part of a wider strategy to improve China’s relations with Europe as well as his image back home following rare nationwide protests over his catastrophic zero-Covid policy. 

Indeed, Xi is reportedly trying to position himself as the one who would be able to stop Putin from unleashing nuclear weapons.

In November, Xi  issued a direct warning to Putin not to use nukes in Ukraine in China’s bluntest rebuke yet to the Kremlin.

Xi also urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was visiting Beijing, to push for peace talks – saying the international community should ‘create conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) oppose the use or threat of nuclear weapons.’

‘China would always have opposed the use of nuclear weapons,’ Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Centre at the University of California in San Diego, told the FT. 

‘But when Xi Jinping says these kinds of things to European leaders, he wants to emphasise a certain distance from Russia.’

Putin is suffering a series of setbacks in Ukraine – and to make matters worse, Iran is reportedly slowing down its delivery of drones to Russian soldiers on the front line.

Putin reportedly called the Iranian leader Ebrahim Raisi to ‘try to find out what caused the delay in the delivery of arms, in the first place ballistic missiles and launchers for those missiles, claimed Russian Telegram channel General SVR.

‘The Iranian president attributed the delay to difficulties and promised to resume in the foreseeable future,’ the Telegram channel claimed today.

The issue surrounding the drones was the real reason behind a phone call between Putin and Raisi, it was claimed. 

A Kremlin statement had blandly said the phone talks had been about ‘scaling up bilateral cooperation across the board’ and ‘consistently implementing mutually beneficial projects in energy, transport and logistics’.

Moscow has become dependent on Iranian drones and missiles due to chronically slow arms production in its own military factories.

In November, Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine, which has seen the Iranian-made drones divebombing Kyiv.

But the US government said in December that Iran sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia over the summer and in turn Russia is moving to provide advanced military assistance to Iran, including air defense systems, helicopters and fighter jets.

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