Home / News / World /  Russia-Ukraine war: ‘Only one person in the world can influence Putin’

As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, a senior and influential economist Stephen Roach said only one person in the world has leverage over Vladimir Putin and can exert influence and he is China's Xi Jinping.

In an interview to CNBC, Roach said, “There’s only one person in the world, I think, who has leverage over Vladimir Putin — and that’s Chinese President Xi Jinping."

“I mean, China’s really holding the trump card here and I think it’s up to Xi to seize this moment," he added.

Stephen Roach is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and a Senior Lecturer at Yale’s School of Management. He was formerly Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and the firm’s Chief Economist for the bulk of his 30-year career at Morgan Stanley, heading up a highly regarded team of economists around the world.

Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 12th day following what Ukrainian authorities described as increased shelling of encircled cities and another failed attempt to start evacuating hundreds of thousands of civilians from the besieged areas, including the southern port of Mariupol.

Russia announced yet another cease-fire and humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine for Monday but nothing has happened so far. Two previous cease-fire attempts have failed and Russian forces continue to pummel Ukrainian cities with rockets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a global boycott of all Russian products — including oil — ahead of a third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian leaders planned for Monday.

More than 1.7 million Ukrainians had been forced from the country. Zelenskyy urged his people to keep resisting, and Ukraine’s foreign minister said more than 20,000 people from 52 countries had volunteered to fight in Ukraine’s newly created international legion.

Earlier today, China called Russia its “most important strategic partner" as Beijing continues to refuse to condemn the invasion of Ukraine despite growing pressure from the US and European Union to use its influence to rein Moscow in.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Chinese ties with Moscow constitute “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world."

China has broken with the US, Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has said sanctions create new issues and threaten a political settlement of the conflict.

“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era," Wang said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial parliament.

“The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad," he added.

China and Russia have increasingly aligned their foreign policies against the liberal Western order and their militaries have carried out exercises together and flown joint air patrols, as their relationship has taken on the trappings of an informal alliance.

Xi’s government has refused to criticize the Russian invasion but tried to distance itself from Putin’s war by calling for dialogue and the respect of national sovereignty. That prompted suggestions that Putin failed to tell the Chinese leader his plans before their February statement.

Along with denouncing trade and financial sanctions on Moscow, Beijing says Washington is to blame for the conflict for failing to take Russia's security concerns into consideration.

During an hour-long phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, Wang said China opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames" in Ukraine.

(With inputs from agencies)

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