Russia’s Putin to discuss Ukraine war, Mideast tensions with Xi during China visit

The Kremlin said Putin will pay a state visit at the invitation of Xi and that they will discuss China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the situation in the Middle East and Asia as well as Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China on May 16-17 for discussions with Xi Jinping about the conflict in Ukraine as well as deepening energy and trade cooperation, the Kremlin chief’s first foreign trip of his new six-year term.

China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

The Kremlin said Putin will pay a state visit at the invitation of Xi and that they will discuss China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the situation in the Middle East and Asia as well as Ukraine.

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Putin’s newly appointed defense minister, Andrei Belousov, as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu and foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov will also attend an informal meeting between Putin and Xi on May 16.

“The leaders will have a one-on-one conversation, they will walk through the park next to the palace, drink tea, obviously, and then informal talks will take place during an informal dinner with the participation of some members of the delegations from both sides,” Ushakov told Russian news agencies.

He praised China for its “balanced” position on Ukraine.

Putin, 71, and Xi, 70, will take part in a gala evening celebrating 75 years since the Soviet Union recognized the People’s Republic of China, which was declared by Mao Zedong in 1949.

Reuters reported exclusively in March that Putin would travel to China in May.

The United States casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat while US President Joe Biden argues that this century will be defined by an existential contest between democracies and autocracies.

Putin and Xi share a broad world view, which sees the West as decadent and in decline just as China challenges US supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

During the visit, Putin will meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang to discuss trade and economic cooperation. Putin will also visit Harbin in northeastern China, a city with strong ties to Russia.

Putin pivoted strongly to China after the United States and its allies tried to isolate Russia as punishment for the war in Ukraine.

China-Russian trade hit a record of $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3 percent from a year earlier, Chinese customs data shows.

Putin will bring a large trade delegation with him, including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina.

Others in the delegation include Sberbank CEO German Gref, businessman Oleg Deripaska, VTB chief Andrei Kostin, Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and Novatek boss Leonid Mikhelson, Ushakov said.

China has strengthened its trade and military ties with Russia as the United States and its allies imposed sanctions against both countries. Russia has become China’s top crude supplier, with its oil shipments to China jumping more than 24 percent in 2023 despite Western sanctions.

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