How much influence does Xi Jinping have on Vladimir Putin, Ms. Legarda? Relations between China and Russia are very close and on a personal level the relationship between Putin and Xi also seems to be very good. But that does not mean that Moscow is following Beijing’s instructions. China does have a certain influence on Russia, especially because its economic dependence on the People’s Republic has increased. But Xi’s ability to influence Putin’s decisions on Ukraine may be much smaller than many assume.

How has China supported Russia since the outbreak of war? China may have been reluctant when the war broke out, but it has since provided extensive support to Russia. China supports Russia at the political and diplomatic levels and the number of high-level meetings between the two sides has increased sharply.

China has also become one of Russia’s most important economic partners. Trade between the two countries is growing rapidly: China is importing more Russian energy and exporting larger quantities of industrial equipment and electronics to Russia.

This also includes goods and components with potential military use, so-called dual-use goods, which have enabled Russia to continue its war effort in Ukraine. And security policy and military cooperation between the two sides has also become closer.

Could Xi influence Putin to participate in negotiations on the Ukraine war or to pursue less brutal warfare with fewer civilian deaths? And does he even want that? China would theoretically have some degree of economic leverage to bring Putin to the negotiating table, but that does not appear to be in Beijing’s interest.

The country prioritizes geopolitical concerns even as its support for Russia worsens relations with Europe and the United States. As competition with the United States intensifies, Beijing sees Russia as an important partner that shares its ambitions to reshape the global order and also sees the United States as its greatest adversary. China also benefits economically from access to cheap raw materials from Russia.

What role does Li Hui, Beijing’s special envoy to Ukraine, play? Li Hui is China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs. In this role, he has already traveled to Europe twice with the official intention of “mediating and finding consensus” for a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

However, Li didn’t have many solutions to offer. Rather, he sought to strengthen China’s narrative and image as a force for peace and stability and to explore Europe’s unity and resolve on Ukraine.

By Viktoria Bräuner

The original for this article ““China could force Russia to negotiate” – but has other interests” comes from Tagesspiegel.