In a boxy, pink building in Beijing's diplomatic quarter, sandwiched between the Iranian and the Kazakh embassies, a security guard is standing outside the gate, freezing despite his winter coat. Zhanna Leshchynska's office is located in the building behind him, Ukraine's chargé d'affaires in Beijing. Two years ago, her boss died of a heart attack, and she has been running the diplomatic representation ever since. It's a herculean task: Her country is at war, but no one in China's capital seems much to care.
It takes exactly 27 minutes to walk around the Russian Embassy in Beijing. Several apartment buildings, office towers, a hospital, two sports fields and a park are part of the huge Russian enclave over which Moscow's ambassador in Beijing presides. Until recently, that man was Andrey Denisov. Born in 1952 in Kharkiv in what was then the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, he studied Sinology and later became a key figure in Russian-Chinese relations.