Putin expects China’s Xi to visit soon, Xi holds his line on Ukraine

  • Putin’s words emphasize that he turned from the West to China
  • Both distrust the West
  • Xi Jinping’s restrained words contrast with Putin’s upbeat tone
  • There is no indication from Xi Jinping that he supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • The US is “sure” that China will join Russia

Dec 30 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he expects Chinese President Xi Jinping to pay a state visit early next year, a public show of Beijing’s solidarity as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine falters.

But the official Chinese reading of the video summit between the two leaders underscored the differences in attitudes to their developing alliance, and Beijing, which declined to endorse or condemn the invasion without mentioning the visit, stressed that it would maintain its “objective and fair” position.

Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia has sidelined it economically and politically, turned its back on Western powers arming Ukraine, and turned its attention instead to the rising global power of longtime rival China.

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“We are waiting for you, Mr. Chairman, dear friend, we are waiting for you on a state visit to Moscow next spring,” Putin told Xi Jinping in an eight-minute introduction broadcast on state television.

“This shows the strength of Russian-Chinese relations on important issues to the whole world,” he said.

He also said he aimed to develop military cooperation with China, but China’s state broadcaster CCTV did not mention that in a statement about the call.

Although Xi called Putin a “dear friend,” his introduction was about a quarter longer than Putin’s, and more pragmatic in tone.

The two men signed an “unlimited” strategic partnership in February, days before Russia sent armed forces to Ukraine.

After the call, the United States expressed “security” about China’s engagement with Russia and reiterated Beijing’s warning of consequences if it provided military aid to Russia for its war against Ukraine or helped it evade Western sanctions.

“We are closely monitoring Beijing’s activities,” a State Department spokesman said. “Beijing sees itself as neutral, but its behavior clearly shows that it is still investing in closer ties with Russia.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, February 4, 2022. Sputnik/Aleksey Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

US officials have consistently said they have yet to see Beijing provide material support for the war, which could trigger sanctions against China.

TRADE is growing

Since major Western economies responded to the attack with unprecedented, coordinated sanctions, Russia has been forced to seek other markets and has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude supplier. The volume of bilateral trade has increased and financial relations have expanded.

Russia’s Finance Ministry on Friday doubled the maximum possible share of the Chinese yuan in its National Wealth Fund (NWF) as Moscow seeks to “de-dollarize” its economy and end its dependence on “unfriendly” nations, including the United States and Europe. Members of the Union and England and Japan.

Moscow has also publicly backed Xi Jinping’s stance on Taiwan, accusing the West of trying to stir up conflict over the status of the self-governing island, which China claims is its own.

Putin told Xi Jinping: “You and I share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape in the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West.”

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However, Xi has been less vocal in his criticism of the West, China’s main export market, and has appeared cool about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China has refrained from making accusations, stressing instead the need for peace, but Putin publicly acknowledged his Chinese counterpart’s “dismay” at Russia’s actions in September.

But Xi told Putin on Friday that China is ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia amid the “difficult” global situation in general.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the meeting was meaningful and constructive, but the date of Xi Jinping’s visit has not yet been set.

Reuters statement; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Shanghai and Michael Martina in Washington; Written by Kevin Liffey; Edited by Andrew Evens, Tomasz Janowski, and Nick McPhee

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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