ISW predicts what Xi Jinping and Putin will talk about in Moscow
The Institute for the Study of War suggests that the talks between the leaders of Russia and China will focus on Xi Jinping's mediation in the war in Ukraine and ways to evade sanctions
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports.
During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Chinese leader Xi Jinping may discuss Russia's sanctions evasion schemes over its invasion of Ukraine.
Also, during his visit to the Russian capital from March 20 to 22, the Chinese president is likely to raise the topic of Beijing's interest in mediating a negotiated settlement of the war in Ukraine, analysts say.
The Kremlin says that Putin and Xi plan to sign unspecified bilateral documents and discuss topical issues of comprehensive partnership between Russia and China.
"Chinese companies have reportedly sold rifles, drone parts, and equipment to Russian entities that could be used for military purposes, and Western intelligence agencies have stated that Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment to Russia," the publication says.
Experts believe that Xi likely plans to discuss sanctions evasion schemes with Putin and Russian officials to support the sale and provision of Chinese equipment to Russia.
ISW previously assessed that self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and Chinese leader signed a package of 16 agreements on March 1 that may help evade Russian sanctions by channeling Chinese products through Belarus.
"Xi also likely aims to promote Chinese efforts aiming to position China as an impartial third-party mediator for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine," the report says.
On February 24, China released a broad 12-point peace plan for the war in Ukraine. According to experts, Xi may seek to parlay his success in mediating the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia into a larger effort to mediate in this war.
The report also notes that Lukashenko confirmed that Belarusian industry is supplying Russia with electronic components, potentially supporting previous ISW assessments that Belarus may assist Russia in evading Western sanctions.
On March 17, Lukashenko stated that Belarus and Russia signed an agreement on establishing a joint Belarusian-Russian center for the development and production of photomasks (an intermediate good used in the production of integrated circuits), that the two states have developed a list of critically important electronic components, and that Belarusian industry has already begun shipping unspecified microelectronics to Russian enterprises.
The ISW assessed that Belarus could facilitate Russia's evasion of sanctions and that China could covertly transfer goods and/or equipment to Russia through Belarus.
The US State Department sanctioned several additional Belarusian defense entities and tightened existing export controls to Belarus as of February 24, 2023, but these sanctions may not be comprehensive enough to prevent Belarus from sending Russia electronic components used in weapon systems and other dual use technologies, according to the publication.