Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrated unity at a meeting in Moscow in the shadow of the war against Ukraine. Xi hailed the "close" bilateral ties at the start of his state visit to the Russian capital, while Putin highlighted the "commonalities" between the two countries.
"We are partners in comprehensive strategic cooperation," said the Chinese head of state, according to Russian state television. In the parade hall of the Senate Palace on the Kremlin grounds, the two shook hands for a long time. Both later sat together at the fireplace - a sign of special closeness.
Moscow and Beijing have "many common tasks and goals," Putin said in a talk with Xi in the Kremlin. The Kremlin chief described the Chinese President's first foreign trip to Russia in his new term of office as "symbolic". Xi began a three-day state visit to Russia on Monday.
According to the head of the Munich Security Conference, the visit of China's heads of state to Russia is important for both statesmen. Putin wants to show his people that "Russia is not isolated - last week he received an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court," said Christoph Heusgen on Monday on ntv. "He's sort of an outcast of the international community now." Since Friday, Putin has had an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
The three-day state visit therefore suits Putin well, especially since the war is not going as Putin had imagined and the country is also not doing well economically.
But good relations with Moscow are also a clear advantage for China - because of Russia's oil and gas wealth. Heusgen: "Russia is now a discount gas station for China. Of course, Xi appreciates that." Xi Jinping needs Russia in system competition with the USA. Because of Russia's self-isolation, Putin is now a junior partner for China.
Putin himself seems to be implying this. During the joint talks, he said that he envied China's economic success. Russia's economy, on the other hand, is groaning under the sanctions imposed by the West in the wake of the war.
Both heads of state therefore want to further expand the economic cooperation between their countries during the talks, which will last until Wednesday. The most important day is Tuesday. According to the Kremlin, the signing of agreements to expand an "all-encompassing partnership" and "strategic cooperation" is also planned.
China has not condemned Russia's war against Ukraine. On the first anniversary on February 24, 2023, China published a position paper in which the country called for dialogue in the Ukraine war and for respect for the territorial sovereignty of all countries. In the West, however, the plan met with overwhelming disappointment; Ukraine sharply criticized him.
At the meeting with Xi, Putin was open to China's proposals to end the conflict. Moscow is "always open to negotiations," Putin said. "All these issues" would "certainly be discussed, including the Chinese initiative."
Ukraine's foreign ministry called on Xi to use his influence with Putin to push for an end to the war.
However, many Western heads of state and government believe that China's efforts to appear neutral on the diplomatic scene are not very credible. They accuse Beijing of silently supporting Moscow.