Beijing is worried about Moscow’s aggression, says Tajani. On Tuesday, speaking to the press about the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that Moscow is “isolated” but “trying to break out of it” even though it remains “an aggressive power” in the eyes of the free world.
- “Even China is worried about Moscow’s attitude. Last week, I asked the Chinese Foreign Minister [Wang Yi] to push Russia to come to its senses,” he said.
- He was remarking on President Putin’s choice to “turn to the worst possible interlocutor”, the North Korean dictator, in his bid to seek support – military and otherwise.
Some context. Minister Tajani made a reference to his recent trip to Beijing, where he had the extremely delicate task of preparing the ground for Rome’s exit from the Belt and Road Initiative. The Italian government’s strategy to avoid economic retaliation entails treading carefully and reassuring China of its interest to “reinforce cooperation” beyond the BRI – leveraging the pre-existing strategic partnership between the two countries.
- This need to stick to the softer line arguably resulted in a degree of overzealousness on all matters concerning China, which transpired from his words on Beijing’s stance on Moscow and its war of aggression on Ukraine.
- Plus, the Pope’s Peace Envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi is currently making his way to Beijing (after visiting Kyiv, Moscow and Washington) for peace talks – another possible reason for FM Tajani’s excess of cautiousness.
- During the weekend, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said that he has been supporting Cardinal Zuppi’s peace mission.
Still, China-Russia ties are undeniably strong, as evidenced by a plethora of instances – which range from their recent efforts to prop up the BRICS as an alternative to the Western-heavy fora to Chinese propaganda aligning itself with Russia’s own, even when it comes to Ukraine and Moscow’s posited pretexts to carry on its war of aggression.
- Beijing and Moscow famously declared a “no limits” partnership just weeks before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Plus, China’s peace plan is modelled on an outcome that would favour Russia…
- … and to this moment, China has not signalled any real discomfort with regard to the ongoing Russian invasion.