Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the Kremlin in a visit that sent a powerful message to Western leaders allied with Ukraine that their efforts to isolate Moscow have fallen short.
Xi’s trip — his first abroad since his re-election earlier this month — showed off Beijing’s new diplomatic swagger and gave a political lift to Putin just days after an international arrest warrant was issued for the Kremlin leader on war crimes charges related to Ukraine.
The two major powers have described Xi’s three-day trip as an opportunity to deepen their “no-limits friendship”. China looks to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy, and as a partner in standing up to what both see as U.S. domination of global affairs.
The two countries, which are among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, also have held joint military drills.
They shook hands before sitting down and making brief statements at the start of their meeting, calling each other “dear friend” and exchanging compliments. Putin congratulated Xi on his re-election and voiced hope for building even stronger ties.
“China has made a colossal leap ahead in its development in recent years,” Putin said, adding that “it’s causing genuine interest all around the world, and we even feel a bit envious”, as Xi smiled.
He welcomed China’s proposals for a political settlement in Ukraine and noted Russia is open for talks.
“We will discuss all those issues, including your initiative that we highly respect,” Putin said.
“Our cooperation in the international arena undoubtedly helps strengthen the basic principles of the global order and multipolarity.”
Moscow and Beijing have common cause: Earlier this month, Xi accused Washington of trying to isolate his country and hold back its development as it challenges for regional and global leadership.
In an increasingly multipolar world, the US and its allies have been unable to build a broad front against Putin. While 141 countries condemned Moscow at a United Nations vote marking the first anniversary of Russian troops rolling into Ukraine, several members of the G-20 — including India, China and South Africa — chose to abstain. Many African nations have refrained from openly criticising Russia either.
“We hope that the strategic partnership between China and Russia will on the one hand uphold international fairness and justice, and on the other hand promote the common prosperity and development of our countries,” Xi said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that over dinner on Monday, Putin and Xi would touch on issues related to Ukraine, adding that Russia’s president will likely offer a “detailed explanation” of Moscow’s view on the current situation.
Broader talks involving officials from both countries on a range of subjects are scheduled for Tuesday, according to Peskov.
For Putin, Xi’s presence at the Kremlin is a prestige visit and a diplomatic triumph, allowing him to tell Western leaders allied with Ukraine that their efforts to isolate him have fallen short. Xi’s trip comes just days after the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced it wants to put Putin on trial for the abductions of thousands of children from Ukraine.
China portrays Xi’s visit as part of normal diplomatic exchanges and has offered little detail about what the trip aims to accomplish, though the nearly 13 months of war in Ukraine cast a long shadow on the talks.
At a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Xi’s trip was a “journey of friendship, cooperation and peace”.
“China will uphold its objective and fair position on the Ukrainian crisis and play a constructive role in promoting peace talks,” he said, referring to the war.
Beijing’s leap into Ukraine issues follows its recent success in brokering talks between Iran and its chief Middle Eastern rival, Saudi Arabia, which agreed to restore their diplomatic ties after years of tensions.
Flushed with that success, Xi called for China to play a bigger role in managing global affairs.
“President Xi will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common concern,” Wang said.
Objects of war become new normal in Kyiv
He added that Xi aims to “promote strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries and inject new impetus into the development of bilateral relations”.
China last month called for a cease-fire and peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautiously welcomed Beijing’s involvement, but the overture fizzled.
The Kremlin has welcomed China’s peace plan but Washington strongly rejected Beijing’s call for a cease-fire as the effective ratification of the Kremlin’s battlefield gains.
Kyiv officials say they won’t bend in their terms for a peace accord.
“The first and main point is the capitulation or withdrawal of the Russian occupation troops from the territory of Ukraine in accordance with the norms of international law and the UN Charter,” Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, tweeted on Monday.
That means restoring “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity”, he wrote.
Xi’s trip to Russia comes after the International Criminal Court on Friday issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest on war crimes charges.
The Kremlin doesn’t recognise the authority of the International Criminal Court and has rejected its move against Putin as “legally null and void”. China, the United States and Ukraine don’t recognise the ICC, either, but the court’s announcement tarnished Putin’s international standing.
China’s foreign ministry on Monday called on the ICC to “respect the jurisdictional immunity” of a head of state and “avoid politicisation and double standards.”
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said Monday that the International Criminal Court’s move to issue an arrest warrant for Putin will have “monstrous consequences” for international law.
“A gloomy sunset of the entire system of international relations is coming, trust is exhausted,” Medvedev wrote on his messaging app channel.
He argued that in the past the ICC has destroyed its credibility by failing to prosecute the purported US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He also cautioned that the court in The Hague could be a target for a Russian missile strike. Medvedev has in the past made bombastic statements and claims.
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Last modified: October 30, 2022