Russia said on Tuesday that the United States was driving the war in Ukraine, saying China's foreign minister was joking when he said an "invisible hand" was to blame.
In effusive comments on China's stature in world affairs, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said Moscow was paying close attention to a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that Beijing published last month.
He was speaking after Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said the Ukraine crisis seemed to be driven by an invisible hand, pushing to extend and escalate the conflict and using it "to serve certain geopolitical agendas".
"Here we can probably disagree with our Chinese comrades. This is of course a joke. You know what the joke is: this is not an invisible hand, this is the hand of the United States of America, this is the hand of Washington," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"Washington does not want this war to end. Washington wants and is doing everything to continue this war. This is the visible hand."
Moscow has repeatedly declared that the United States and its allies are using Ukraine to wage war against it. That narrative is rejected by Kyiv and the West, which say Ukraine is fighting for survival against a Russian imperial land grab.
Referring to a Chinese ceasefire initiative announced last month, Peskov said Moscow was in constant contact with Beijing.
"A big, giant, powerful and authoritative country like China can't fail to have its own voice on those problems that stand high on the world agenda," Peskov said. "We pay great attention to all the ideas we hear from our colleagues in Beijing."
The deferential tone reflected Moscow's growing reliance on China at a time when the West is trying to isolate Moscow and pounding its economy with sanctions. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping signed a "no limits" partnership less than three weeks before Putin sent his army into Ukraine last February.
China has refused to name Russia as the aggressor, while often criticising the United States for bullying other countries with sanctions. At the same time, it has expressed deep concern that the conflict may escalate or "spiral out of control".
In comments likely to hearten Moscow, China's Qin said Beijing must advance its relations with Russia as the world becomes more turbulent.
Trade data published on Tuesday provided further evidence of the growing commercial ties between the two neighbours.
China's exports to Russia jumped 19.8% in the first two months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, while imports soared by 31.3%, resulting in a Chinese trade deficit with Russia of $3.6 billion with Russia in January and February.
China's trade with Russia hit a record high in 2022 as Moscow was cut off from Western markets and Beijing snapped up the opportunity to buy Russian oil at a discount.