What Happened

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping met in Uzbekistan on September 15, the first time the two had met in person since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Remarks from the authoritarians were mutually endorsing where interests aligned; however, the speeches highlighted a contrast in strategies and exposed the limit of Beijing’s support for its neighbor. Putin took the opportunity to blast the West’s military expansionism and attem.” At the same time,create a unipolar world,” while Xi emphasized China’s and Russia’s roles in bringing order and positivity to a world in chaos.

Russia and China held a four-day joint China-Russia military exercise at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training base in China’s northwest Ningxia in 2021

What it Means

Putin and Xi’s rhetorical disparity in Uzbekistan suggests the Sino-Russian relationship is limited by self-interests, incongruent strategies, and disparate risk tolerances – all of which will probably continue to weaken the alliance.

The Eastern powers offer mutual moral and political support where objectives overlap, but their strategies are self-reliant, and each has limited influence over the other’s foreign policy. Seven months into Russia’s war in Ukraine, there is little evidence of direct Chinese aid for Russian forces. When the pair last met in February, Xi promised a Russia-China partnership without limits; but Putin’s entanglement in Eastern Europe has apparently posed the limitation of Beijing’s support.