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Ukraine in focus at Biden-Xi meeting: Topics on agenda

Ukraine in focus at Biden-Xi meeting: Topics on agenda Photo: Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will meet today in San Francisco (Facebook of the White House)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The leaders of the United States and China - Joe Biden and Xi Jinping - will meet in San Francisco on November 15. It is expected that the parties will discuss a wide range of issues - from trade to geopolitics.

Oleksandr Kraiev, an analyst at the Ukrainian Prism Сenter, told RBC-Ukraine about the place of the Ukrainian topic in these negotiations and what could be bad news for Russia.

The key narrative of the meeting is the so-called confidence-building measures. We can talk about military measures here, the Chinese are already calling the meeting with Biden an attempt to revive military-technical cooperation, which was undermined by last year's visit of the then-speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan.

Therefore, one way or another, Ukraine will be mentioned, and there are several aspects here. The first, not surprisingly, is nuclear safety. We remember that Russia's provocations and flirting with the nuclear issue are a red line for the Chinese. They constantly sidestepped the issue, saying that this would not be tolerated and that Beijing would react. In this context, they did not directly mention Russia, but it is also understandable when the reaction came immediately after Vladimir Putin's statements. Biden and Xi Jinping should start talking about some kind of mutual nuclear guarantees and how to contain the Russian Federation.

The second aspect is what is called the rules of the game in the theory of international relations. Because after February 24, 2022, they no longer exist. Russia has shown that international law does not work, international organizations are not needed, it is not clear what is possible and what is not possible, and there is no longer right and wrong in international politics. Therefore, we have seen an increase in the number of conflicts in Africa, Central, and East Asia, and Europe.

Russia has opened "Pandora's box" and now the system is in a state of chaos, and this chaos is intensifying. As key players, China and the US do not need such chaos. Of course, they oppose each other, they are opponents, but this does not mean that it is good for them to constantly be in such chaos, in which it is good to be Russians. In this context, the issue of Ukraine will be considered, we have become a marker of how this system should work. For example, whether China can trade freely with Russia. The US is obviously against it, but China will pay its price. Ukraine will be among the topics in a geopolitical sense.

The meeting cannot be regarded as a rapprochement. It is difficult to imagine that Beijing and Washington will become allies or full partners. They are in that state, which in the West is successfully called "frenemy", that is, friend-enemy. Russia certainly does not care that China is simply ready to talk with the United States. Another thing that will bother it is that China is ready to talk about her behind her back. China is ready to negotiate with the USA and not support the Russian Federation to trade its interests.

The Russians hoped for Chinese support as early as March 2022, there were requests for ballistic missiles, for operational-tactical drones, but they did not receive any of these. Yes, through North Korea they received shells, uniforms, and some Chinese resources, but this is far from the level of support that Moscow hoped for. A situation has arisen when Russia is not included in the club of the big and strong, and this is one of the reasons why it started a war with Ukraine. And now they are negotiating new rules of the game behind their backs and deciding Russia's fate without Russia. To put it mildly, Vladimir Putin will be very offended.

Will these rules be agreed upon in San Francisco? I don't think it will happen in one meeting. This is a complex and long process, and the summit will not solve all the issues. But the fact that the process begins is certain and obvious, it will be continued. And this is a good signal for the whole world: the good old rule applies here - the more and longer the parties talk, the less likely they will fight.