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China backs Russian efforts to stabilise country after Wagner rebellion

CHINA threw its weight on Sunday behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to stabilise his country after an aborted coup against the Kremlin by an army of mercenaries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said China declared support for the leadership in Moscow during a previously unannounced trip to Beijing by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko.

“The Chinese side expressed support for the efforts of the leadership of the Russian Federation to stabilise the situation in the country in connection with the events of June 24, and reaffirmed its interest in strengthening the unity and further prosperity of Russia,” the Russian statement said.

Mr Rudenko met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang to discuss “international and regional issues of common concern,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its website.

Mr Rudenko’s visit came just a day after Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of private mercenary army Wagner Group, ordered his troops to march on Moscow in the greatest challenge to Putin’s more than two decades in power. 

Mr Prigozhin later on Saturday reached a deal with the Kremlin to go into exile.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Sunday that the uprising was “Russia’s internal affair.”

“As a friendly neighbour and comprehensive strategic partner in the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity,” the statement said.

The Xinhua News Agency said Russian “representatives from all parts of the nation, dignitaries and religious leaders strongly condemned the incident, and clearly stated that they stood on the side of the Russian federal government, stability and peace.”

China and Russia, while not formal allies, have maintained close ties throughout Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, for which China has put forward a road map towards peace. 

China sent an envoy to Ukraine and Russia in May in an attempt to mediate talks to end the war.

While in Beijing, Mr Rudenko also held talks with Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu. 

The two sides pledged to “strengthen solidarity and co-operation” and promote the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, a security-focused regional group that both Russia and China belong to, according to a readout of the talks by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“Under the complex and severe international situation, it is necessary to … communicate in a timely manner, ensure the stable and long-term relationship between the two countries and safeguard the common interests of both sides,” Mr Ma said.

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