Xi backs Putin! China lashes out at Russia sanctions amid Ukraine invasion

Ukraine welcomes sanctions says Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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Ukraine is set to declare a state of emergency, lasting for 30 days, in all regions apart from separatist areas Luhansk and Donetsk. After Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to enter the separatist regions, Ukraine, the UK and US and other NATO countries have slammed Moscow with sanctions.

After the move, China accused the US of creating “fear and panic” over the crisis in Ukraine through its sanctions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday Beijing opposes new sanctions on Russia, and said the US was fuelling tensions by providing weapons to Kiev.

Ms Chunying continued by noting China has never thought sanctions are the best way to solve international disputes.

She then said China hopes relevant parties can try to resolve their issues through dialogue and remain calm and exercise restraint.

Chinese analysts also told Beijing state media outlet The Global Times Russia has “strong capacity and resilience to withstand US and EU sanctions”.

They suggested sanctions so far are more symbolic than anything likely to inflict substantial harm on the Russian economy.

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the outlet: “The first batch of sanctions is not targeted at either specific industries or the core of the Russian economy, so the impact is minimal.”

However, the expert admitted follow-up measures could be more concrete and wide-ranging, involving energy, finance and military dimensions.

The outlet said Russia needs to prepare for being cut off from SWIFT, a high security network that connect thousands of financial institutions around the world, which has been described as a “nuclear option” in sanctions packages that could deprive it of 40 percent of its revenue from energy exports.

Nikolai Zhuravlev, vice speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said in January, according to state media outlet TASS: “If Russia is disconnected from SWIFT, then we will not receive [foreign] currency, but buyers, European countries in the first place, will not receive our goods — oil, gas, metals and other important components.”

It comes after the UK announced sanctions on five banks: Bank Rossiya, Black Sea Bank, Genbank, IS Bank and Promsvyazbank.

Three Russian billionaires have also been issued UK travel bans, but the measures drew criticised from MPs who said the measures did not go far enough.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said Britain is ready to escalate sanctions against Russia in the event of a full invasion of Ukraine, and said further sanctions are “in the locker”.

Meanwhile, the EU will issue sanctions against Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, and the commanders-in-chief of the Russian Air Force and Black Sea Fleet.

The bloc is also issuing sanctions against leading state “propagandists” as well as 351 Duma deputies, with asset freezes and travel bans imposed on 23 people, three banks and a notorious internet ‘troll factory’ in St Petersburg.

US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday the “first tranche” of sanctions on Russia, which includes sanctions on Russian financial institutions, sovereign debt and the country’s elites and their family members.

Reacting to Mr Putin’s recognition of Ukraine’s separatist regions, Mr Biden said: “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called ‘countries’ on territory that belonged to his neighbours?”

While Ms Chunying said China disagrees with sanctions, on Monday Beijing decided to impose sanctions against US military companies Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin.

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press conference: “To protect the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China and its interests in the area of security the Chinese government in accordance with the law on countering foreign sanctions has decided to take counter measures against US defence companies Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin, which participated in the US’ supplies of arms to China’s Taiwan for a long time.”

He urged the US to stop supplying arms to Taiwan and cut all military ties with Taiwan.

Ms Chunying also stressed the Ukraine crisis is distinct from tensions around Taiwan, which China regards as rightfully their territory.

China has stepped up military activity near the self-governing island over the past two years.

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