Hybrid Lecture: The China Factor in Russia’s War Against Ukraine

The Institute for Global Analytics organized a hybrid lecture on the topic of Beijing’s role in the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine. The event was conducted in partnership with the American University in Bulgaria and took place on 21 March 2023 in the context of Chinese President Xi’s visit to Moscow. 

Dr. Rumena Filipova, Chairperson of IGA, provided an overview of the ideological and interest-based reasons for the growing convergence of Chinese and Russian positions; discussed the attempted pursuit of neutrality on the part of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic community and its allies in the Indo-Pacific; and highlighted the tension between the EU’s recognition of the strategic dangers posed by China and the significant enmeshment of European businesses in the Chinese economy. Keynote lecturer Matej Šimalčík, Executive Director of the Central European Institute of Asian Studies, presented the reactions of the Indo-Pacific countries to the war in Ukraine, noting among others their voting patterns at the UN General Assembly and public attitudes towards Russia. He further detailed the four main vectors of Chinese support for Moscow, including discursive, diplomatic, economic and military assistance. Mr. Šimalčík pointed out the conjunction of Russian and Chinese propaganda and singled out such trends as the 35% increase in overall Russian-Chinese trade since the start of the war. Professor Ilya Levine of AUBG explained the positions of states that attempt to balance between the West and Russia in the context of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine. India, in particular, has bought Russian oil buoying up Russia’s economy, while New Delhi faces the dilemma as to whether Moscow still represents a reliable supplier of military equipment.

The Q and A session focused on China’s peculiar understandings of international relations (descending from its historically conditioned tributary system); how Russia’s assumption of a junior role in the relationship with China will affect its place in the international system; how European countries can deal with investments from Beijing, which can typically be characterized as ‘corrosive capital’.