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Putin, Xi Slam AUKUS for Undermining Nuclear Balance, Fuelling Tensions

© Sputnik / POOL / Go to the mediabankNegotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping
Negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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The trilateral pact between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, dubbed AUKUS, was introduced in September. Among other things, it envisages Washington and London helping Canberra acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping criticised the AUKUS pact during their Wednesday talks, agreeing that it "undermines the foundations of the nuclear nonproliferation regime" and escalates tensions in the region.
Speaking to reporters following the Putin-Xi negotiations, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that the presidents expressed concerns regarding American activities to "reconfigure the current situation in the Asia-Pacific region".
The AUKUS agreement that was announced in September envisages Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines - a prospect that has already caused concerns among many members of the international community over its potential impact on the situation in the region.
"And in this regard, both from our side and from the Chinese side, a negative assessment was expressed about the creation of new alliances such as the Indo-Pacific Quad and the American-Anglo-Australian union AUKUS", Ushakov told reporters.
The talks were described as "highly positive", with Ushakov noting that it was a conversation of "two friends". According to him, the level of ties between Russia and China is much more than simply that of allies.
Among the topics discussed by Xi and Putin were trade, international relations, and security issues. The Chinese president was informed about Russia's idea on security guarantees, Ushakov said.
"The president [Xi] specifically stated that he supports Russia's demands for guarantees, that naturally he is well aware of this and understands the main thing, what concerns Russia has on its western borders", he said.
The official also said that Russia will be informing China of Moscow-NATO contacts on security guarantees.
According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Xi said that Russia and China have "acted as responsible major countries". He also noted that, while a number of countries attempt to interfere in Russian and Chinese affairs, the two nations should bolster their joint efforts to protect their security.

Putin-Biden Talks

Aside from this, Putin told Xi about his conversation with US President Joe Biden that took place last week in a bid to relieve tensions around the situation in Ukraine as Kiev accuses Russia of "amassing" troops near the border.
Flags of Russia, EU, France and coat of arms of Nice on the city's promenade - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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Per Ushakov, Putin said that he conveyed to Biden Moscow's concerns regarding NATO's enlargement. During the talks with the American president, Putin said that there are no plans in the Kremlin to attack Ukraine, but Russia insists on NATO respecting its "red lines" and stresses the need for consultations on security guarantees with Biden.

UN Security Council, Economy, & COVID Response

The conversation also included a discussion of Moscow's idea on preparing a summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. According to Ushakov, the two heads of state consider it necessary to hold it in 2022.
The Russian and Chinese presidents additionally discussed economic issues, particularly the aspiration to increase the share of national currencies in bilateral trade and export of Russian grain to China.
Putin and Xi also agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the response to COVID-19. Per Ushakov, the president emphasised the importance of Russian vaccine production in China. Agreements are in place to produce more than 150 million doses of Sputnik a year at Chinese factories.
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