Russia and China are not creating a military alliance, and the cooperation between their armed forces is “transparent”, President Vladimir Putin said in comments broadcast on Sunday, days after hosting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the Kremlin.
Putin and Xi professed friendship and pledged closer ties, including in the military sphere, during their March 20-21 summit, as Russia struggles to make battlefield gains in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“We are not creating any military alliance with China,” Putin said on state television. “Yes, we have cooperation in the sphere of military-technical interaction. We are not hiding this.
“Everything is transparent, there is nothing secret.”
China and Russia signed a “no limits” partnership accord in early 2022, just weeks before Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. Beijing has refrained from criticising Putin’s decision and has touted a peace plan for Ukraine. The West has dismissed its proposals as a ploy to buy Putin more time to rebuild his forces in Ukraine.
Washington has said recently that it fears Beijing could arm Russia, something China denies.
In his televised remarks, Putin dismissed suggestions that Moscow’s increased ties with Beijing in areas such as energy and finance meant that Russia was becoming overly dependent on China, saying these were the views of “jealous people”.
“For decades many have desired turning China against the Soviet Union and Russia, and vice versa,” he said. “We understand the world we live in. We really value our mutual relations and the level they have reached in recent years.”
Putin also accused the United States and NATO of seeking to build a new global “axis” that he said bore some resemblance to the World War Two alliance between Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and imperial Japan.
Putin named Australia, New Zealand and South Korea as being in line to join a “global NATO” and referenced a defence agreement signed by Britain and Japan earlier this year.