President Xi Jinping of China, on a two-day visit to France, spoke out firmly against criticism of his country for its close relationship with Russia during the war in Ukraine, saying that “we oppose the crisis being used to cast responsibility on a third country, sully its image and incite a new cold war.”

Flanked by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, with whom he held several rounds of talk on Monday, Mr. Xi stiffened as he defended China’s role, recalling it was “not at the origin of this crisis, nor a party to it, nor a participant.”

The bristling remark appeared aimed principally at the United States, which believes that China, aside from buying enormous amounts of Russian oil and gas, continues to aid Moscow’s war in Ukraine by providing satellite imagery to Russian forces along with jet fighter parts, microchips and other dual-use equipment.

Mr. Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, who attended a morning session of talks, pressured Mr. Xi to use his influence on Moscow to bring the war to an end. Mr. Xi will host President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Beijing later this month, but there was no suggestion — other than a general wish for peace — that he would ask his “no limits” ally to stop the war.

The talks in Paris took place as Mr. Putin again suggested he might be prepared to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. Russia has specifically cited Mr. Macron’s taboo-breaking statement in February that the deployment of Western troops in Ukraine could not be ruled out as a reason for Moscow’s decision to hold military exercises to practice for the possible use of battlefield, or “tactical,” nuclear weapons.


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