In the midst of war and strife the meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow has come as a major assertion of new solidarities in the region. The two day summit in Moscow has been hailed by both as a major step forward, more so with China having assumed the calibrated role of a peacemaker at large and in a mood to break barriers.

Both China and Russia have been working together since the inception of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on April 26, 1996 with the organisation having grown substantially since. There has been no looking back for the two major countries that have held hands through the tumultuous world events, even as they keep their respective sovereignty clearly demarcated. In recent times China has stepped out to support Putin in gestures that have not gone unnoticed, but not been commented upon by the world media. One, when the two leaders met shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine that brought it under tremendous flak from the west and NATO world. And now again, with Xi visiting Moscow days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged crimes committed in Ukraine.

Putin emerged happy from the meeting that “all agreements” had materialised with Xi maintaining, “We signed a statement on deepening the strategic partnership and bilateral ties which are entering a new era.” The summit has strengthened the “no limits” partnership that the two leaders had announced last February. And China’s 12 point peace proposal is now officially on the Russian table with Putin endorsing it. As Xi said, “we are always for peace and dialogue.” And as he left the state dinner he said in a categorical assertion, “together, we should push forward these changes that have not happened for 100 years, Take care.”

These remarks are significant and feed into China’s perception of a declining West. More interestingly as Russia is locked in a US supporter war with its neighbour, and China is roaming the world with a message of peace. Its intervention as a peace broker between Saudi Arabia and Iran can prove to be historic (if it lasts) as it has the potential to change the dynamics of one of the most troubled regions of the world. As stated in these columns earlier it will bring an end to the Yemen war and could bring Israel to heel. The second chapter of this agreement is soon to follow, with Moscow currently working and coordinating to play host to Turkey, Syria and Iran Foreign Ministers very soon. This in itself will be a major breakthrough as the hostile relations between Turkey and Syria have become almost legendary since the US attack on Assad in a ‘regime change’ effort, with Iran close to Syria but with strained relations with Erdogan.

There is thus, more to the story than summits and agreements. The sub-text and the fine print in the recent rapid developments with China at the centre are establishing an ascendancy that is leaving Biden and the US behind. The tiredness on US President Joe Biden’s face seems to have spread all over the American map, with internal factionalism and hostilities adding to its inability to find its feet internationally. NATO has been impacted by the Ukraine war, and is weakened because of internal divisions; the US money has not enabled a Russian defeat; and the conflict has brought Russia and China together as never before with a stress on multipolarity in a joint statement targeting the United States.

Internationally, thus, the alignments are changing, solidifying, weakening, strengthening as a new order emerges. Good or bad, each nation will have to determine, but the tables are being reversed with Washington’s major trading partner (China) determined to up the ante with peace and not war as its calling card.