13.2 C
Los Angeles
Monday, October 2, 2023
Home Feeds China’s Xi visits Moscow, Putin as war rages in Ukraine

China’s Xi visits Moscow, Putin as war rages in Ukraine


Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Russia on Monday for a much-anticipated three-day state visit, taking a joint stand with President Vladimir Putin against the West even as the Russian leader stands accused by the International Criminal Court of war crimes in Ukraine.

The two men, each positioned as “leader for life” of a nuclear power, celebrated their “no limits” relationship in Beijing together in early 2022, just weeks before Putin ordered his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and they have met about 40 times. But Monday’s visit, the first by Xi since the invasion, represents a display of tacit support for the war by China and a personal triumph for Putin, who is eager to show he is not isolated on the world stage.

At an initial meeting on Monday afternoon, the leaders appeared relaxed, smiling as they shook hands. “Dear friend, welcome to Russia,” Putin said.

Putin praised Xi’s leadership and complimented China’s “colossal leap forward,” adding: “All over the world, this is of genuine interest, and we even envy you a little.”

Xi, in similarly flattering terms, told Putin that he thought Russia had made “significant progress in prosperity” under his leadership. “You have elections next year, and I’m sure the Russian people will support you” Xi said.

Elections in Russia are not free or fair. Opposition politicians often are subjected to persecution and arrest, or face other obstacles to running for office. Putin also pushed through constitution changes that will let him stay in power at least through 2036.

Xi’s plane arrived at Vnukovo International Airport just southwest of the Russian capital at approximately 1 p.m. local time Monday. The presidential motorcade then made its way to the center of Moscow, where dozens of people waving Chinese and Russian flags greeted the delegation at the Soluxe Hotel in the north of the city. A dinner is scheduled for later on Monday at which, according to a menu posted by one Kremlin pool reporter, the leaders will eat quail and mushroom pancakes, venison and Russian wine.

China’s Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on March 20, marking his first visit to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. (Video: Russia 24)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the leaders would discuss the prospects for peace “one way or another” and that Ukraine would “undoubtedly be on the agenda.”

With the world’s attention focused on Xi’s appearance in Moscow, the Ukrainian government on Monday urged the Chinese leader to press Putin to respect the United Nations Charter, withdraw Russia’s occupying forces and restore Kyiv’s territorial integrity.

“We expect Beijing to use its influence on Moscow to make it put an end to the aggressive war against Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told The Washington Post. “We stand ready to engage in a closer dialogue with China in order to restore peace in Ukraine in accordance with the principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter, and the latest [U.N. General Assembly] resolution on this matter.”

Ahead of the meeting, the two leaders each published articles — Xi’s carried in Rossiyskaya Gazeta; Putin’s in the People’s Daily — in which they denounced what they portrayed as U.S.-led Western hegemony, and arrogance.

Putin attacked the United States directly in his article. “The U.S.’s policy of simultaneously deterring Russia and China, as well as all those who do not bend to American dictation, is getting ever more fierce and aggressive,” Putin wrote. “The international security and cooperation architecture is being dismantled. Russia has been labeled an ‘immediate threat’ and China a ‘strategic competitor.’”

As Xi visits Russia, Putin sees his anti-U.S. world order taking shape

Xi merely alluded to Washington, writing: “The international community is well aware that no country in the world is superior to all others. There is no universal model of government and there is no world order where the decisive word belongs to a single country. Solidarity and peace on the planet without splits and upheavals meet the common interests of all mankind.”

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has pursued an increasingly assertive foreign policy to counter what Beijing sees as U.S. efforts to contain China. Its friendship with Moscow is a key part of China’s strategy to subvert Western-imposed isolation.

Xi and Putin are expected to discuss opportunities to build their bilateral partnership, including greater economic cooperation, which has soared over the past year and become increasingly vital to Russia amid the bite of Western sanctions and punitive measures against Russian energy exports. In 2022, Chinese exports to Russia increased by 12.8 percent, while Russian exports to China of crude oil increased, in dollar terms, by 44 percent and exports of natural gas more than doubled, according to industry data.

The leaders may also address Russia’s need for lethal weapons from China, as the war in Ukraine stalls and Kyiv awaits deliveries of more powerful and sophisticated weapons from the West, including battle tanks and air defenses.

“There has been a lot of speculation about military aid, but China has not promised Russia anything,” said Ma Fengshu, director of the Russian and Central Asian Studies Center at Shandong University. “Of course President Xi and Putin will talk about the Ukraine issue, but this meeting will be primarily about enhancing bilateral cooperation between China and Russia, rather than working out a solution to the Ukraine crisis.”

China professes to be neutral in the war, but Xi has not condemned Russia’s invasion or Putin’s effort to annex four Ukrainian regions in a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law.

Still, Xi is expected to raise to a 12-point peace plan he put forward last month, which called for an end to “unilateral sanctions” but notably did not demand Russia’s withdrawal from occupied Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed openness to speaking with Xi but has vowed to reclaim all occupied lands.

At Monday’s opening meeting Putin told Xi that Russia was “open to the negotiation process.”

“We have carefully studied your proposals to resolve the acute crisis in Ukraine. Of course, we will have the opportunity to discuss this issue,” Putin said.

Xi’s trip, while delivering Putin a much-needed distraction from Russia’s failures on the battlefield, also highlights his country’s growing dependence on China, one of its few remaining allies and partners.

Putin visits occupied Mariupol, staking claim to invaded Ukrainian lands

“We have high expectations for the upcoming talks,” Putin wrote in the People’s Daily article. “We have no doubt that they will give a new powerful impetus to our bilateral cooperation in its entirety. This is also a great opportunity for me to meet with my good old friend with whom we enjoy the warmest relationship.”

Meanwhile, Xi wrote that the visit aimed to strengthen the countries’ “friendship, cooperation and peace.”

“I am ready, together with President Vladimir Putin, to outline new plans and measures in the name of opening up new prospects for China-Russia relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation,” he wrote.

Over the weekend, Putin made a surprise trip to the occupied city of Mariupol, once again staking his claim to invaded Ukrainian lands. Russian forces all but destroyed the city during a months-long siege before seizing it last spring.

Ukrainians reacted with anger and dismay to the visit, noting that Putin is accused by the International Criminal Court of illegally taking Ukrainian thousands children to Russia, many of whom came from Mariupol.

Xi is also expected to speaking to Zelensky following his Russia trip, which will be capped by a formal state dinner at the Kremlin.

A spokesman for Zelensky, Serhiy Nykyforov, said Friday that “there are no specific agreements” about when the call would take place but that “the work is in progress.”

“This topic, among others, was discussed by foreign ministers of Ukraine and China,” Nykyforov wrote in a text message.

David L. Stern in Kyiv; Natalia Abbukumova in Riga, Latvia; and Lyric Li in Seoul contributed to this report.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one year ago — in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other under extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

A year of living apart: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love, with once-intertwined lives having become unrecognizable. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.