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Xi Arrives in Moscow, Giving Putin Boost Amid War in Ukraine

4 minute read

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow Monday for talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin including on Beijing’s proposals to end the war in Ukraine.

“During the visit, I look forward to exchanging in-depth views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common concern, so as to draw a blueprint for China-Russia strategic coordination and practical cooperation in the new era,” Xi said in brief remarks on arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport shown on Chinese state TV. “This visit will be fruitful and inject new impetus” into the relationship, he said.

Putin will give a detailed account of his view of the year-old invasion and discuss China’s 12-point proposal for resolving it, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Tass. The presidents are scheduled to hold one-on-one talks followed by an “informal” dinner Monday, with more negotiations and state dinner set for Tuesday, according to the Kremlin.

Read More: Xi Jinping’s Visit to Russia Isn’t Really About Bringing Peace to Ukraine

Xi’s trip to Moscow marks his most ambitious effort yet to play the role of peacemaker as he seeks to broker an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Kyiv has been cool to Beijing’s plan, while the US and its allies have rejected it outright.

The Chinese president is expected to deliver a strong message of support to Putin with the three-day visit, his first trip abroad since securing a third term at Beijing’s annual parliamentary meeting earlier this month.

For Putin, Xi is by far the most significant international leader to visit since the Feb. 24, 2022 invasion, which triggered Europe’s deadliest war since World War II and waves of sanctions by the US and its allies. Xi’s arrival comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest on charges of war crimes. Russia has dismissed the move and China Monday called for the court to avoid politicization.

“The timing of the visit illustrates how little regard Xi holds for the ICC arrest warrant and how he is seeking to introduce a new international order on China’s terms,” said Kate Mallinson, founder of Prism Political Risk Management in London. “Xi regards the war in Ukraine as a part of a wider conflict with the US and is vaunting the fact that China alone holds the keys to solve the war.”

Ahead of the visit, Putin and Xi published articles in each other’s state newspapers praising bilateral ties. Xi called his trip “a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace” while Putin called the Russia-China relationship “the cornerstone of regional and global stability.” Xi said his position on a settlement of the war in Ukraine “reflects the broadest common understanding of the international community on the crisis.”

The two leaders are expected to discuss China’s peace blueprint, a document dismissed by the US and its allies. The criticism of the plan was more muted from Kyiv, which has sought talks at a leader level with China since the war broke out. Xi has agreed to hold his first conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after meeting Putin.

China’s ceasefire paper has little detail and largely consists of broader foreign policy positions long espoused by Beijing. While its embrace of the principle of territorial integrity won praise in Kyiv, which seeks to drive Russian forces back across the border, a call for freezing forces in current positions is a non-starter.

China and Russia need to boost two-way trade, foster more convergence of interests and areas of cooperation, as well as raise both the quality and quantity of investment and economic cooperation and step up policy coordination, according to a signed article by Xi carried by Xinhua News Agency Monday.

The Chinese leader last visited Russia in mid-2019, while Putin went to Beijing in early 2022 to attend the opening of the Winter Olympics. At that meeting the two leaders agreed to a “no limits” friendship and signed a series of long-term energy supply deals.

The two met in September last year at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Forum, where Putin said he understands Beijing’s “questions and concerns” about his invasion of Ukraine, a rare admission of tensions between the diplomatic allies.

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