China to Welcome Belarusian Leader, Raising Concerns Over Ukraine

Savage Premium Subscription

As officials in Ukraine anxiously watch evolving diplomatic overtures between Moscow and Beijing, China’s top leader will host the president of Belarus — a staunch Kremlin ally — with the pomp of a state visit next week.

On Saturday, China announced the visit, to take place over three days starting on Tuesday, for President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, who a year ago allowed Russian forces to use his country as a staging ground for their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The presence in Beijing of such a close partner of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is likely to increase international attention, and pressure, over China’s straddling position on the war.

The announcement of Beijing’s latest high-profile official visitor comes a week after the Biden administration accused China of considering sending lethal military assistance to Russia, a claim that Chinese officials have denied. If the Chinese send arms and ammunition to Moscow’s formations in eastern Ukraine, the supplies would come at a time when both sides are running low on much-needed artillery rounds.

And after Beijing issued broad principles on Friday for trying to end the fighting in Ukraine, Western leaders voiced disappointment at the lack of more specific ideas in their proposal, or any signs that the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, might be willing to distance himself from Mr. Putin.

Mr. Lukashenko’s office said in a statement that his visit to China would be a chance to offer a “response to acute challenges in the modern international environment.”

In a phone call with Belarus’s foreign minister, Sergei Aleinik, on Friday, his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, indicated that Beijing wanted to deepen ties between the two nations and find common ground over Russia’s yearlong war in Ukraine, according to a summary issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.