In an interview published Thursday by China’s state-run People’s Daily, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of using sanctions to “blackmail” the rest of the world into accepting its “dubious ideals.”
Putin arrived in China Thursday for the Belt and Road Forum, which runs through Saturday. He arrived in China after meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok earlier on Thursday.
People’s Daily asked Putin about the objectives of bilateral cooperation between Russia and China and how the two countries could “do more to exert a positive influence” and “maintain an equitable and fair world order.”
Close observers of Russian and Chinese policy might wonder how they could possibly do less to exert a positive influence on the world, but Putin naturally had a more upbeat answer. He said Russia and China should work together to block the global leadership claimed by Western nations, particularly their use of economic sanctions.
“They carelessly trample on the norms and principles of international law, resort to blackmail, sanctions and pressure, and try to force their values and dubious ideals on entire countries and populations. We are categorically opposed to such approaches,” Putin said.
“In order to improve the international situation and to form a more equitable and democratic global architecture, we will continue to closely coordinate Russia and China’s steps on important global and regional issues, and productively cooperate at leading multilateral venues such as the UN, G20, SCO, BRICS and APEC,” he continued.
“At the same time, we remain open to cooperation and joint work with like-minded people, including everyone who is interested in promoting state-to-state communication on the unshakable foundation of the UN Charter and international law,” he said.
Russia constantly opposes U.S. and European sanctions, beginning with those leveled against Russia itself. China likewise opposes sanctions in general and those which inconvenience Beijing in particular.
This is partly because Russia and China tend to do a great deal of business with the world’s bad actors. China’s sales pitch for itself as a new hegemonic power includes promises that its partner regimes will not be hassled about human rights violations and other activities that tend to catch the attention of the U.S. Treasury Department.
After meeting with Kim Jong-un on Thursday, Putin and his spokesmen strongly hinted North Korea would need sanctions relief to continue with denuclearization. The Russians have been generally on board with getting North Korea to back away from nuclear missiles but seem to be signaling their official support for “maximum pressure” against Pyongyang has its limits.
Unofficially, the Russians have helped North Korea violate sanctions on a stunning scale, often by meeting North Korea’s fleet of “ghost ships” with disabled trackers at sea and illicitly transferring goods.
China has an attitude similar to Putin’s about the United States and Europe using economic pressure to force their values on foreign cultures. The Chinese have made a concerted effort to dismiss human rights concerns as a racket run by the West to unfairly restrict Chinese economic growth and international prestige.