Will China Defend Ukraine Against Russia Nuclear Threat? Curious 2013 Pact Puts Beijing in Hot Spot

Vladimir Putin's order to keep nuclear forces on high alert amid his Ukraine invasion forced geopolitical experts to recall China's security guarantee to Ukraine under a 2013 pact. The pact, if Beijing considers following, could play a groundbreaking role for Kyiv at the time of war. However, it still remains unclear and extremely doubtful that Xi Jinping will even try to consider the pact as Beijing is currently defending Moscow from all sides as Western sanctions rain on Russia.

What the Pact Says

Under the 2013 pact, China pledges unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear-free Ukraine. Further Beijing also pledged to provide Kyiv nuclear security guarantee when Ukraine encounters an invasion involving nuclear weapons or Ukraine is under threat of a nuclear invasion.

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping Wikimedia Commons

The pact was signed by then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on December 5 that year. The agreement also declared Kyiv and Beijing as strategic partners, reported the Washington Times.

Not Clear if China Even Considers to Follow the Pact

The countries also agreed to not allow "the establishment of any separatist, terrorist and extremist organizations or groups, and any of their acts, to harm each country's sovereign rights, security, and territorial integrity".

The Russian invasion of Ukraine currently tests China's security guarantee to Kyiv, a path which developments suggest Beijing will rarely even consider taking as it is aggressively involved in protecting Moscow from the restrictive measures being implemented by the West. Officially, Beijing has not responded to the request if it considers following the pact.

China's First Air Craft Carrier Came From Ukraine

Kyiv has close arms ties with Beijing as soon after it separated from the Soviet Union in 1991. From Ukraine, Beijing had bought an unfinished aircraft carrier in 1990 for $20million which became the Chinese Navy's first aircraft carrier.

France's Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier
Representative image

Ukraine's Defence Ties with China

Apart from the aircraft carrier, Kyiv has also supplied jets and aircraft engines to Beijing. Even the former Soviet part provided the communist regime design information which Beijing incorporated into Chinese Y-series military transport and surveillance aircraft.

When Ukraine and China were signing the 2013 pact, top officials in the US speculated that the major threat that Ukraine faces notably comes from Russia and even they conveyed that Moscow poses nuke threats to Kyiv. With regard to the speculation, the US officials had raised doubts over the pact saying definitely China terms Ukraine and Russia both as to its strategic partners but it would definitely choose Russia among the two in the face of crisis.

China's Massive Support to Russia

In the current crisis, Beijing tactically supported the Russian troops in their operations against Ukraine as it has not condemned the military action of Moscow and conveyed that Russia had legitimate security concerns with Kyiv, a move which indicates the communist regime will defend Moscow at the time of Putin's more aggressive actions.

Russia and China relation
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping en.kremlin.ru

In the recent crisis, the US had shared its intel on Russian troops' deployment with Beijing in the hope to gain the latter's support to press Russia and Putin to not invade Ukraine. But the communist regime shared those inputs with Moscow instead of helping the US, a clear indication of Beijing's policy whom it favors in the current crisis.