Moscow and Beijing warned the Trump administration it was “playing with fire” after the US imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia and China, which have deepened mistrust of Washington in both capitals.
Ties between Russia and China have vastly expanded to include energy deals, cross-border investments and defence co-operation and have picked up speed this year amid attacks on both countries by President Donald Trump.
Washington on Thursday imposed sanctions on a branch of China’s military apparatus for buying fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles from Russia, which it said was in violation of measures imposed on Moscow to punish it for alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. It also added 33 Russians to a list of people barred from making significant military transactions.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, said sanctions are futile and have “turned into a kind of national entertainment” for the US, noting that Thursday’s announcement marked the 60th anti-Russian measure since 2011.
“No one will ever succeed in dictating their own terms to Russia. Operators of the Washington sanctions machine are advised to at least superficially familiarise themselves with our history in order to stop wasting their time,” Mr Ryabkov said in a statement.
“It would be good for them to also recall the concept of global stability, which they thoughtlessly unbalanced by the escalation of tension in Russian-American relations. Playing with fire is stupid, because it can become dangerous,” he added.
In Beijing, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry demanded the removal of the sanctions or “bear the consequences”.
“The relevant US practices have seriously violated the basic norms of international relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and military forces,” Geng Shuang told reporters. “We strongly urge the US to immediately correct the mistakes and revoke the so-called sanctions, otherwise the US must bear the consequences.”
Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to Moscow, said on Friday that while Washington and Moscow continued to collaborate on issues such as Syria and North Korea, the bilateral relationship was “stressed”.
“The months ahead will be key in stabilising our relationship and deepening trust,” Mr Huntsman said. “We must work on replenishing the level of trust between our officials.”
Last week Chinese troops and tanks took part in Russia’s largest war games since 1981, the first country from outside of the former Soviet Union to be invited to such a big military exercise.
Simultaneously, presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin met in the Russian city of Vladivostok where they jointly attacked Mr Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric and vowed to work together to support multilateral organisations and promote trade.
Encouraged by the warm friendship between Mr Putin and Mr Xi, the Kremlin has sought to pivot Russia’s economy towards China, tapping Chinese banks for capital to replace loans and investments from US and European banks cut off by sanctions. Moscow believes diplomatic ties with Beijing will serve as a counterweight to reduced influence in western capitals.
“Every time Trump makes such statements in relation to such serious countries that have a population of more than 1bn people, countries that possess nuclear weapons, he only pushes these countries closer to each other,” said Alexander Sherin, deputy chairman of the defence committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament.
“Thanks to US actions, the Russian Federation is forging an even closer relationship with China, India, Turkey and Iran,” Mr Sherin told Interfax, a news agency.