The Russian invasion of Ukraine creates both a crisis of confidence in the West and an impression of vitality and strength about the Sino-Russian relationship. However, the impression might be just that — there are several existing and potential wrinkles in the ties that can be hard to smoothen.
First, there is the question of costs to China directly from Russia’s actions. The latter’s support of independence for the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions considerably complicates China’s own position vis-à-vis its minority areas such as say, Inner Mongolia whose Mongol majority have ethnic brethren across the border in Mongolia. On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for the 2014 referendums held by separatists in eastern Ukraine has also raised concerns in China that Taiwan’s pro-independence forces could also a similar tactic — referendums are a common enough feature in Taiwan’s political system, and have been used before for issues skirting dangerously close to what the Chinese might have considered an assertion of independence.