Zhang was cited as saying in an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS that “Washington is the initiator and principal instigator of the Ukrainian issue, while imposing unprecedented sweeping sanctions on Russia, continues to transfer armaments and military equipment to Ukraine.”
“Their ultimate objective is to exhaust and defeat Russia with the hammer of sanctions and a protracted war.”
The ambassador’s reasoning closely followed one of Russia’s own justifications for its invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in thousands of deaths and the devastation of entire cities, as well as driving more than a quarter of the population to flee their homes.
In the interview, Zhang said Sino-Russian relations had entered “the best period in history, characterised by the highest level of mutual trust, the highest degree of interaction, and the greatest strategic importance”
Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Beijing in February to meet President Xi Jinping as Russian tanks were massing on the Ukrainian border, agreeing to what both states hailed as a “no limits” partnership superior to any Cold War alliance.
Zhang railed against US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week to self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own, and said the US was trying to apply the same tactics in Ukraine and Taiwan to “revive a Cold War mentality, contain China and Russia, and provoke major power rivalry and confrontation”.
“Non-intervention in internal affairs is the most fundamental principle of maintaining peace and stability in our world,” Zhang said, applying the principle to criticise Washington’s Taiwan policy but not Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia calls the invasion a “special military operation” and says it was necessary not only to maintain its own security but also to protect Russian-speakers from persecution.
Ukraine and the West say these are baseless pretexts for an imperial war of aggression against a neighbour that gained independence when the Moscow-led Soviet Union broke up in 1991.