China’s President Xi is visiting Russia in an apparent show of support for Putin amid the Ukraine war


BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to visit Russia Monday through Wednesday in an apparent show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising East-West tensions over the war in Ukraine and the latest sign of heightened tensions Beijing’s diplomatic ambitions.

Russia’s ongoing incursion into Ukraine is expected to dominate discussions between Putin and Xi. China has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and has tried to present itself as neutral in the conflict, despite Beijing declaring last year that it has a “boundless” friendship with Russia.

Both China and Russia announced Xi’s trip to Moscow on Friday. The visit offers Putin a diplomatic shot in the arm as Western leaders have sought to isolate him over the war, now in its 13th month.

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China’s refusal to condemn Russia, denounce Western sanctions, and accuse NATO and the United States of provoking Putin’s military action has angered Washington as it competes with Beijing for influence.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Xi would hold one-on-one meetings at an informal dinner on Monday. Broader talks with representatives of both countries are planned for Tuesday. Peskow did not want to give details of the talks.

During the war in Ukraine, China declared that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. However, it remains unclear whether his position is aimed at positioning China as a neutral peacemaker or suggests that Beijing is sympathetic to Moscow’s claims of seizing Ukrainian territory.

China urged Ukraine to hold talks with Russia

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing is concerned that the years-long conflict is spiraling out of control called for talks about a political solution with Moscow.

China has “always taken an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, committed to promoting peace and advancing negotiations, and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks,” Qin said.

Kuleba later tweeted that he and Qin “discussed the importance of the principle of territorial integrity.” Ukraine has listed Russia’s withdrawal from the occupied territories as a key condition for peace, and China has its own territorial integrity issues with Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

“I underscored the importance of the peace formula (of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) in stopping aggression and restoring a just peace in Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote, speaking with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken the same day.

China is more inclined towards global affairs

Beijing’s apparently deeper dive into Ukraine issues follows its success last week in brokering talks between Iran and its main Middle Eastern rival, Saudi Arabia. These two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties after years of tension.

The deal gave China a leading role in Middle East politics, a role previously reserved for longtime global heavyweights like the US

Against this backdrop, Xi urged China to play a greater role in managing global affairs.

Washington has collated Western military and diplomatic efforts against Putin, but the Russian leader has shown no signs of softening his aggressive stance.

The destruction of a US drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday following an encounter with Russian warplanes has further escalated tensions between the US and Russia, although it has also sparked the first talks between the countries’ defense and military chiefs since October.

China last month called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks between Kiev and Moscow. Zelenskyi cautiously welcomed Beijing’s involvement, but the overture seemed to go no further.

What will happen between China and Russia?

Putin invited Xi to visit Russia during a video conference in late December. The visit, Putin said, could “demonstrate the strength of Russian-Chinese relations to the whole world” and “become the most important political event of the year in bilateral relations.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday that Xi will “keep in-depth exchanges of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common interest, promote strategic cooperation and practical cooperation between the two countries, and.” give new impetus to the development of bilateral relations.”

“At present, with the accelerated development of the changes of the century, the world is entering a new period of turbulence and reform. As permanent members of the UN Security Council and key important countries, the significance and impact of China-Russia relations goes far beyond the bilateral sphere,” he added.

The Kremlin also announced Xi’s visit on Friday, saying it will be “at the invitation of Vladimir Putin.”

Xi and Putin will discuss “issues of further developing the comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China” and exchange ideas “in the context of deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation at the international level,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders will also sign “important bilateral documents,” the statement said.

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