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May 15, 2024, 1:25pm EDT
Europe
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Russia, China deepen ties as Moscow gains momentum in Ukraine

Insights from Defense One, Tracking People’s Daily, and Meduza

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Damaged buildings at the site of a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv.
REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy
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The News

Russia’s latest offensive in Ukraine is gaining momentum. Ukraine withdrew some troops stationed near the northeastern city of Kharkiv and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy canceled all of his upcoming international trips to focus on the war.

Russia launched a new offensive last week, bombarding the Kharkiv region and forcing Ukraine to send reinforcements and even tap prisoners to make up troop numbers; analysts expect Russia to try to push further, saying it is in a particularly strong position at this point in the war.

Ukraine’s setbacks on the battlefield come as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to arrive in China on Thursday, a visit that signifies the countries’ strengthening bond despite Western opposition. The US and the EU have urged Beijing to tamp down its support for Moscow; meanwhile, the US approved billions of dollars worth of new arms for Ukraine that are due to arrive by July.

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Ukraine pushes for US to lift missile restrictions

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Sources:  
The New York Times, Defense One, Meduza

The White House is worried the Russian offensive could change the trajectory of the war — particularly because Moscow has exploited the delay in new US weapons flowing to Ukraine as a result of gridlock in Congress over foreign aid packages, The New York Times reported. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv this week to promise more aid, but several Ukrainian lawmakers want Washington to remove restrictions blocking Kyiv from striking Russian territory using US-supplied missiles. Russia is increasingly dropping large bombs on large cities, while Ukraine is forced to prioritize reinforcements at the frontlines. “Ukraine’s problem is that it’s already short on reserves,” Meduza wrote.

Russia-China partnership shows no signs of breakage

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Sources:  
Bloomberg, Financial Times, Tracking People's Daily

Despite the US ramping up sanctions designed to curtail China’s support for Russia, Putin’s visit this week shows Beijing “is without a doubt our main partner,” an advisor to the Kremlin said. “In some aspects, we’ve no other alternative.” In an interview with Chinese state media, Putin praised China’s “practicable and constructive steps to achieve peace.” Russia relies on China for energy and wartime supplies in the face of Western sanctions. For its part, Beijing wants to “reshape global geopolitics in its direction using trade” at the expense of the US, the Financial Times wrote. It is doing more business with countries seen as antagonistic to the West, including Belarus, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

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