China’s Defence Minister expressed his desire to enhance naval collaboration with Russia during a meeting held in Beijing, marking the highest-level public discussions between military officials from both nations since a failed mutiny in Russia. Li Shangfu, the Chinese Defence Minister, emphasised the need for strengthened communication and cooperation at all levels between China and Russia, as conveyed by the Chinese Defence Ministry’s official statement.
Li Shangfu proposed organising joint exercises, cruises, military skills competitions, and expanding practical cooperation in professional domains. He also called upon Moscow and Beijing to make positive contributions towards upholding regional and global peace and stability.
Nikolai Yevmenov, the head of the Russian Navy, supported Li’s suggestions and echoed the need for expanded exchanges at all levels, aiming to elevate the relationship between their respective militaries to new heights. This dialogue marks a significant milestone in Chinese-Russian military relations following the embarrassing rebellion led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, against the top military brass in Moscow.
While China expressed its support for Russia in safeguarding national stability during the mutiny, President Xi Jinping has yet to engage in public discussions with President Vladimir Putin regarding the incident. Despite claiming neutrality in the Ukrainian conflict, China has faced criticism from Western nations for its refusal to condemn Moscow and its close ties with Russia.
In recent years, China and Russia have witnessed increased economic cooperation and diplomatic engagement, with their strategic partnership growing stronger since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two countries frequently conduct joint military exercises, showcasing the deepening military collaboration between them.
Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, emphasised last month that the robust military partnership between Russia and China contributes to global stability.