Chinese and North Korean volunteer fighters are being awaited by Russian military forces, according to a close Vladimir Putin ally and known Russian propagandist.
The wishful thinking on the part of Vladimir Solovyov comes without much context as both Russia and Ukraine continue to jockey for position in the ear of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met with Putin in March in what the Chinese government described as “a journey of friendship, cooperation, and peace.”
Putin took the opportunity to tout the summit with his “good, old friend” as a means of further galvanizing both nations’ “unprecedented level of trust” and ushering in “a new era” of strategic cooperation.
“They [Ukraine] are preparing for a great war, so it makes sense for China to meet them here in the Ukrainian fields,” state host Solovyov said on the Russian-1 television channel, per a tweet posted by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs. “I look forward to seeing volunteers from China and North Korea.”
Solovyev looks forward to seeing volunteers from China and North Korea fighting for Russia.
What happened to the “second army in the world”? pic.twitter.com/PD1VkUKlps
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) April 7, 2023
The recent summit was viewed by some, including Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, as a slight to Xi and China due to Putin soon after announcing the stationing of tactical nuclear weapons in the allied Eastern European nation of Belarus.
Ukraine said that Belarus was being taken “as a nuclear hostage.” The move may have potentially irked China in terms of its own interests, detailed in a 12-point peace plan administered on the war’s one-year anniversary that included a call for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.
Russian propagandist, television presenter Vladimir Solovyov seen during President Vladimir Putin’s annual meeting with the Federal Assembly, on February 21, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. Solovyov said Russia is waiting for Chinese, North Korean volunteer fighters to aid Russia’s military effort.
Reports indicated that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his administration made efforts to speak with or even meet with Xi before the Chinese leader ever traveled to Moscow last month.
Zelensky last spoke with Xi prior to Russia’s February 2022 invasion, though he and his advisors are keeping communication lines open. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s top diplomat, said on March 30 that China’s official response was that “they’re carefully examining the request” for a call and visit.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said in January that North Korea “firmly” supports Russia’s war effort. North Korea has remained relatively silent otherwise and refrained from any major involvement.
Arkady Moshes, program director for the EU Eastern Neighborhood and Russia research program at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told Newsweek via email that Russia’s top propaganda figures have looked “a lot less self-confident” in recent weeks based on various concerning statements.
“In the aftermath of Xi’s visit to Moscow which did not produce many ascertaining results for Russia but followed by top-level contacts between China and the West, their task is to convince the domestic audience that China does support Russia—whatever is the reality,” Moshes said.
While the selling of munitions from either China or North Korea to Russia cannot be entirely ruled, he added that Solovyov’s wishes for volunteer fighters “is totally improbable.”
“Their appearance on the front, when discovered and proven, would be such a blow on the international reputation of China, that it [can] hardly afford it,” he said, adding that the risk itself would be too great.
“And without China’s consent North Korea cannot take such a decision either,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian and Russian defense ministries via email for comment.
Source : Newsweek