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Boris Johnson Hints China Should Stop Sitting on the Fence Over Ukraine Crisis

© AFP 2023 / PAUL ELLISBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the Conservative Party Spring Conference at Blackpool Winter Gardens in Blackpool, north-west England, on March 19, 2022
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the Conservative Party Spring Conference at Blackpool Winter Gardens in Blackpool, north-west England, on March 19, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.03.2022
Earlier this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing adheres to an independent position on the Ukrainian crisis. The statement came amid the ongoing Russian special military operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it clear that China should get off the political fence and condemn Moscow's special military operation in Ukraine.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, he claimed that it is becoming "steadily more difficult and politically embarrassing for people either actively or passively to condone [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's invasion".

According to Johnson, "there are considerable dilemmas now for people who thought they could sit this one out, who thought they could sit on the fence".
Referring to the neutral stance adopted by China following the beginning of Russia's special operation in Ukraine, the PM said that he believes "in Beijing you are starting to see some second thoughts" on the matter.
The remarks followed Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responding to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's warning that Beijing will face consequences for supporting the Russian operation in Ukraine.

"Regarding the Ukrainian issue, China has always made independent judgments based on the merits of the case in an objective and fair manner", Zhao told reporters on Saturday.

He added that some in the US continue to spread false information and slander, trying to pressure China, something that Zhao said is extremely irresponsible behaviour that does not help resolve the Ukraine crisis.
This came after the Chinese diplomat emphasised earlier this week that Beijing will continue to pursue normal trade and economic cooperation with Moscow based on mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit. He also said that Beijing calls on Washington to avoid damaging China's interests when trying to settle its relations with Russia.
Additionally, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that "Beijing discourages the use of sanctions to settle problems and even more opposes unilateral sanctions that lack international legal grounds".
The comments were preceded by US State Department spokesman Ned Price raising concerns over alleged attempts by China to use the Ukrainian crisis "to advance Beijing's long-term interest in its competition with the United States". He also warned Beijing that any support extended to Russia, including "helping to avert sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, would have implications not only for China's relations with the United States, but for its relationships around the world".

Russia's Special Op in Ukraine

The developments unfold against the backdrop of the ongoing Russian special operation in Ukraine announced by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country. The operation was launched after the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) asked for assistance to defend themselves from intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops.
Putin stressed that Russia is not seeking to occupy Ukraine, while the Russian Defence Ministry underscored that the goal of the operation is to neutralise Ukraine's military capacity with high-precision weapon strikes, which do not pose a threat to the civilian population.
In response, the United States, Britain, and the European Union, as well as several other countries, introduced packages of sanctions targeting Russian entities and individuals. Moscow then retaliated with personal sanctions of its own, directed at top US government officials, including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as well as Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who have been added to Russia's own "stop list".
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