Russian President Vladimir Putin said that using the coronavirus to score political points is undermining faith in authorities across the world and worsening the pandemic, in a joint call with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on Friday.
The two world leaders appeared at the Eastern Economic Forum, held in Russia’s Far East capital, Vladivostok. “It is even more important now, in my opinion, to discard politicization and fight together to overcome the pandemic and its consequences. This is vital for all of humanity,” Putin said. In addition, he argued, efforts to use the unprecedented crisis to sideline rivals and bolster influence is hurting confidence in public health messages.
In a video message broadcast to attendees, Xi also emphasized the need to rally the global community around tackling Covid-19. “We must support each other’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic by increasing cooperation in the development and production of vaccines as a global public good,” he said. “We must resolutely fight attempts to politicize the topic of vaccines and the question of the origin of the pandemic.”
Last month, China rejected calls from the World Health Organization for a new investigation into how the virus appeared, with Beijing saying it backs ‘scientific’ efforts, rather than ‘political’ ones. A delegation from the public health body was sent to Wuhan, where the first known cases were documented, in January. However, it failed to reach a conclusion as to how the outbreak had started, and there have been demands for further studies.
Both Russia and China have themselves been accused of using ‘vaccine diplomacy’ to strengthen their influence and bolster their reputations abroad. However, the two nations firmly deny the charges, insisting they are making as many jabs as possible available to those who need them.
In an exclusive interview with RT earlier this year, one of Russia’s top diplomats at the United Nations, Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy said that, “Unfortunately, there is such a thing as Covid diplomacy,” but that “this is not our choice.” According to him, Moscow doesn’t “seek to get any specific advantage in this regard or use [vaccines as] a tool of Russian influence. We just think that we have a very efficient vaccine which is quite popular and in big demand. So what is so bad for us to promote this vaccine and to offer it to other countries which are ready to get this vaccine?”
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