Driving the news: China and India are two of Russia’s biggest allies, and both have refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion since it began in February. However, neither statement about the long-range missile strikes contained strong criticism of Russia’s actions.
- Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at a press briefing that “all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity” and that “support should be given to all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the crisis,” per the Times.
- Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said “India is deeply concerned at the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, including [the] targeting of infrastructure and deaths of civilians,” the Times reported.
- The statements are the latest indicator that both countries are continuing to distance themselves from Russia as the war in Ukraine drags on.
- The meeting marked a show of diplomatic support for the Russian president, even as Putin acknowledged that Beijing may have “questions and concerns” regarding the war, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.
Meanwhile, India, one of the U.S.’s most valued partners, has until now taken a neutral position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Axios Dave Lawler writes.
Of note: Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko announced Monday that his country would embark on a “joint regional group of troops” with Russia in an effort to counter “possible aggression against our country.”
- The announcement comes after Lukashenko attended a weekend meeting in St. Petersburg with Putin, the Times reports.
- While it’s unclear if Belarus will also send troops into Ukraine to fight alongside Russians, Lukashenko indicated to senior military officials it would be “more than” a thousand Russian soldiers stationed in the country, the state-run news agency Belta reported.
- Belarus was previously a staging area for thousands of troops during Russia’s attack on Kyiv, which ultimately was unsuccessful.