China doesn’t want Russia to lose in Ukraine. But Beijing’s endgame is murky.

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After largely staying on the sidelines during the first year of the Ukraine war, China is creeping toward increased involvement in the conflict. China offering full support to the Kremlin or providing Russia with weapons like drones and artillery could catalyze a wave of consequences on and off the stalemated battlefield.

Beijing doesn’t want Russian President Vladimir Putin to fail in Ukraine, China experts say, but it’s still unclear how far it will go to help the Kremlin in return for perks like buying Russian oil at steep discounts.

“China does not want to get too involved in the war and wants to continue to keep its options open,” Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, told Insider.

“It doesn’t want the war to drag on with all the attendant instability, but it doesn’t want Russia to lose or the regime to collapse,” Thornton added.




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