How did relations between Ukraine and China change after February 24?

Yurii Poita, expert of the NGRN, gave a commentary to Radio Free Europe on how Kyiv has changed its policy towards Beijing after nearly a year of full-scale Russia-Ukraine war.

First, Ukraine’s expert community and media have become more critical of China, especially over its so-called ‘pro-Russian neutrality,’ where China does not provide military and military-technical assistance to Russia, but still deepens relations and provides economic, informational, and diplomatic support to Moscow.

Second, there has been a reassessment of China as a driver of economic growth and a potential safety cushion for Ukraine. Despite a strategic partnership and growing economic ties between Beijing and Kyiv, Ukraine has not been able to change China’s position on the war in its favor. Attempts by the Ukrainian leadership to reach China through diplomacy and the media and convince it to influence Russia or to act as a security guarantor in some sort of postwar deal have completely failed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has not even been able to get a phone call with Xi.

At the moment, the opinion that China cannot be a strategic partner is becoming stronger in Ukraine. A search is now under way for a new formula for relations with China that would meet Ukraine’s national interests while also taking into account strategic competition between Beijing and Washington and China’s position regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war. The office of the president still hopes to involve China in resolving the war, however, these hopes are gradually fading.”

Yurii Poita

Head of the Asian Section

He has been working as a Head of the Asia-Pacific Section at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine). Yurii also is a sinologist and member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

He studied at the Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv International University, the Wuhan Research Institute of Postal and Telecommunications (China), Zhytomyr Military Institute (Ukraine). At the moment Yurii is a PhD candidate at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University.

He has experience in defense, international journalism, analytics and research.

Research interests: China’s influence in the post-Soviet space, “hybrid” threats to national security, Ukrainian-Chinese relations, the development of the situation in the Asia-Pacific and the Central Asian region.

He took part in a number of expert and scientific discussions in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, China and other countries. He has participated in research projects on the consequences of educational migration to China, interethnic conflicts and the protest potential of Kazakhstan, creation of a new Asian strategy of the MFA of Ukraine, study of Ukraine’s relations with the countries of Central and East Asia.

Speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and Chinese.

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January 2023
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