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China to host Belarus leader, Russia close ally

China is preparing to welcome a key autocratic ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin for a state visit, amid warnings from United States officials that Beijing may be considering aiding Moscow in its ongoing assault on Ukraine. Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese officials in Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday at the invitation of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, China’s Foreign Ministry announced Sunday. The Associated Press has the story:

China to host Belarus leader, Russia close ally

Newslooks- BEIJING (AP)

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, was expected to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday for a state visit that will be closely watched closely for hints about China’s attitude to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hosting Lukashenko illustrates the depth of Beijing’s ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his allies.

China claims neutrality in the war, but U.S. officials have warned recently that China is considering sending military assistance to Russia.

China has called the U.S. allegations a smear campaign, and said it is committed to promoting peace talks.

Lukashenko’s government, meanwhile, has strongly backed Moscow, and allowed its territory to be used as a staging ground for the initial invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

This stance left Belarus even more isolated in Europe, where it faces sanctions from the European Union over both its role in the war and its repression of the country’s domestic opposition. The country continues to host Russian troops, warplanes and other weapons.

In a recent interview with Chinese media, Lukashenko said that now is “a unique situation … to put a stop to the conflict.” The interview was first released last week, but bits of it were shared online again on Monday night by Belarusian state media.

Chinese state media gave no word on his arrival or any activities in Beijing on Tuesday.

Beijing on Friday issued a proposal calling for a cease-fire and peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, but has also said it has a “no-limits friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion, or even to call it an invasion. It has accused the U.S. and NATO of provoking the conflict and condemned sanctions leveled against Russia and entities seen as aiding its military effort.

Last week, those sanctions were expanded to include a Chinese company known as Spacety China, which has supplied satellite imagery of Ukraine to affiliates of Wagner Group, a private Russian military contractor owned by a close associate of Putin. A Luxembourg-based subsidiary of Spacety China was also targeted.

“The U.S. has no right to point fingers at China-Russia relations. We will by no means accept the U.S. pressure and coercion,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday at a daily briefing.

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