China refrains from condemning Russia despite intensifying Ukraine attack

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin attends a news conference in Beijing, China November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

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BEIJING, Feb 25 (Reuters) - China stuck to its message on Friday of refusing to call Russia's action in Ukraine an "invasion" or criticise Moscow despite intensifying assaults from Russia's military in the Eastern European country which are leading to growing casualties.

China reiterated that it believes in respecting the territorial integrity of all countries, but said it sees the Ukraine issue as having its own complex and special historical background.

"We understand Russia's legitimate concerns on security issues," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday.

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Wang also hit back against U.S. President Joe Biden's comment that any country that backed Russia's invasion would be "stained by association", saying that it was countries that interfered in the domestic affairs of others that would see their repuations stained.

The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU unveiled more sanctions on Moscow on top of penalties earlier this week, including a move by Germany to halt an $11 billion gas pipeline from Russia.

Asked if China is prepared to increase purchases of Russian oil in response to U.S. and EU sanctions, Wang said: "Sanctions have never been an effective way to resolve problems. We hope the relevant parties can work hard to to resolve the problem through dialogue and consultation."

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Reporting by Eduardo Baptista, Yew Lun Tian, Martin Quin Pollard and Tony Munroe; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Kim Coghill

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