China’s Xi meets Putin next week in Moscow

  • By Steve Rosenberg, James Landale and Aoife Walsh
  • in Moscow, Kiev and London

Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Moscow next week to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials say.

The Kremlin said they would discuss “comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation”.

The visit comes as Beijing, an ally of Russia, has made proposals to end the war in Ukraine, to which the West has received a lukewarm reception.

Western countries have warned Beijing not to supply Moscow with weapons.

This will be President Xi’s first visit to Russia since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. He will have lunch with Putin on Monday, followed by talks on Tuesday.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said China would take “an objective and fair position” on the war in Ukraine and would “play a constructive role in advancing peace talks.”

The fact that the Chinese leader is coming indicates Beijing’s strong support for Moscow. That’s no surprise: Putin and Xi share a similar worldview, both embracing the idea of ​​a multipolar world.

Last year, the two men declared that their partnership knows no boundaries. That is not entirely true.

So far, China has not provided lethal aid to Russia to help it win the war in Ukraine, although the US claims China is considering it.

As for the announced partnership between Moscow and Beijing, Russia – with an economy ten times the size of China’s – is increasingly playing the role of a junior partner.

China’s peace proposals called for peace negotiations and respect for national sovereignty. But the 12-point document did not specifically say that Russia should withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

In February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wanted to meet Mr Xi – “I really want to believe that China will not supply arms to Russia,” he said.

Some US media have reported that Mr. Xi and Mr. Zelensky will speak by phone after the Chinese leader’s visit to Moscow, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Kiev has pushed hard for some kind of engagement. Ukraine believes President Xi is making the visit to send a signal to the world that Russia has at least some allies.

In an interview with the BBC before President Xi’s visit was announced, Mr Kuleba said: “I don’t think China has now reached the point where it wants to, when it is ready to arm Russia. Nor do I think this visit will lead in peace… The visit to Moscow is a message in itself, but I don’t think it will have immediate consequences.”

The message, Mr Kuleba said, was “that China and Russia are very close, close enough for the Chinese leader to visit his Russian counterpart, who is not doing very well.

“And I think this is the message to the whole world, to the West but especially to the non-West, that Russia is not alone, that China is talking to them.”

The US would like Mr. Xi and Mr. Zelensky to have contact. A spokesman for the US National Security Council said it would be “really good if they talk to each other”.

Meanwhile, China’s foreign minister on Thursday urged Kiev and Moscow to resume peace talks as soon as possible during a phone call with Mr Kuleba, who in turn said the two understand the “meaning of the principle of territorial integrity” had discussed.

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