BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against 'expanding' military ties on Wednesday in a speech ahead of a virtual summit with top leaders from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Beijing is hosting the meeting of the influential club of BRICS emerging economies, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the global population and nearly a quarter of the world's gross domestic product.
Three of its members – China, India and South Africa have abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Xi told the BRICS business forum that the "Ukraine crisis is… a wake-up call" and warned against "expanding military alliances and seeking one's own security at the expense of other countries' security".
China and India have strong military links with Russia and buy large amounts of its oil and gas.
In a call last week, Xi assured his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that China would support Moscow's core interests in "sovereignty and security" — leading the United States to warn Beijing that it risked ending up "on the wrong side of history".
South Africa, one of the few African countries wielding diplomatic influence outside the continent, has also not condemned the Russian military action.
Xi also took a swipe at the US and European Union sanctions on Russia in the speech on Wednesday, saying "sanctions are a boomerang and a double-edged sword".
Russian cooperation – The BRICS summit takes place as Russian troops continue to pummel eastern Ukraine after invading the country four months ago.
China and India have both ramped up crude oil imports from Russia, helping Moscow to offset losses from Western nations scaling back energy purchases from the country.
India bought six times more Russian oil from March to May compared with the same period last year, while imports by China during that period tripled, data from research firm Rystad Energy shows.
Once bitter Cold War rivals, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up cooperation in recent years.
The two countries also flew bomber aircraft over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea while US President Joe Biden was in Tokyo in late May, signalling strong military links.
This month, they also unveiled the first road bridge linking the countries, connecting the far eastern Russian city of Blagoveshchensk with the northern Chinese city of Heihe.
President Putin was also in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, just days before the invasion started.