Gao Yusheng, former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine
A former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine has delivered an unusually critical assessment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that recognized the clear signs of defeat for Russian troops and the threat of President Vladimir Putin’s empire-building agenda for European security.
In remarks delivered to an internal forum at the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Gao Yusheng, who served in Ukraine from 2005 to 2007, described the Russian war effort as headed toward defeat, undermined by the failures of Putin’s economic, military and political policies.
“Every day the war continues to extract a heavy cost on Russia,” he said, according to a report of his remarks in Hong Kong-based Phoenix media published on Tuesday. The report disappeared shortly afterward.
Not only is Russia on the back foot on the battlefield, it is also losing the economic, diplomatic and publicity fight, meaning that “it is only a matter of time before Russia is ultimately defeated,” Gao said, according to an archived version of the article.
While Gao’s description of events in Ukraine would be unsurprising if delivered elsewhere, the 75-year-old diplomat’s account is a rare departure from China’s usual position of not criticizing its close diplomatic partner.
China claims it doesn’t take sides in the conflict, but it refuses to call the military assault an invasion and has held the United States and NATO primarily responsible for the outbreak of hostilities.
Gao, however, said Putin’s desire to dominate the region of the former Soviet Union had led to Russia “repeatedly infringing upon others’ territory and sovereignty. This is the greatest threat to Eurasia’s peace, security and stability.”