Russia’s war in Ukraine is the “greatest threat to the world order,” US Ambassador Nicholas Burns said at a forum in Beijing on Monday — a rare event that saw Burns seated on a panel alongside his Russian counterpart for a diplomatic debate.
“The fact that Russia crossed the border with an armed force, unprovoked, and has started this war with so much human suffering, so many innocent civilians dead in Ukraine — this is a direct violation of the United Nations charter, it is a direct violation of what the Russian Federation signed up to when it became a member state,” Burns said at the discussion, which was hosted by Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University and the World Peace Forum.
Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov hit back: “I totally disagree and I can oppose each and every sentence of that intervention,” he said.
Denisov then paused for a “diplomatic courtesy” to wish Burns and other Americans a happy Fourth of July, before accusing NATO of provoking Russia’s action with “five waves of expansion.”
Denisov painted the current world order as being on the edge of an abyss due to “sabotage” of the United Nations.
Rare showing of diplomatic debate: The event, which also included the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson and French Ambassador Laurent Bili, was a rare diplomatic debate in the wake of the Russian invasion, which Western democracies have staunchly condemned.
“The prime responsibility for the war is with Russia,” Wilson said. “NATO is a purely defensive alliance. NATO has acted with extraordinary restraint regarding Russia.”
It was also notable that such condemnations of Russia’s war were being voiced in China. The Chinese Communist Party has neither condemned Russia’s war nor even labeled it as an invasion. Meanwhile, China’s state media has presented a carefully censored version of the war to its citizens and parroted Kremlin talking points on NATO.