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Vladimir Putin arrives in China for state visit as Russian troops advance into Ukraine

Gavriil Grigorov/Pool/Sputnik/Reuters/File

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of Russia’s military-industrial complex in Moscow on May 15, a day before his arrival in Beijing.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing for the start of a two-day state visit to China, underscoring his close alignment with leader Xi Jinping as Russian troops make significant advances in Ukraine.

The visit – Putin’s first symbolic foray abroad since his new term as Russian president last week – is a mark of Xi’s support for Putin and the latest sign of deepening relations as the two countries grow closer facing strong frictions with the West.

Putin landed in the Chinese capital early Thursday morning, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced through his office that he would end all future international visits, as his troops defend against a surprise Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, in the northeast of his country.

The meeting in Beijing – the fourth time Putin and Xi have spoken face to face since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 – comes amid growing international concern over the direction of the war, against a backdrop of delays in aid to Ukraine and while the Russian economy and defense complex appears impervious to Western sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Kyiv earlier this week to reaffirm the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine after months of congressional delays in approving U.S. military aid to the troubled country. Blinken pledged $2 billion in foreign military funding and said much-needed munitions and weapons were being delivered to the front lines.

Xi welcomes Putin under pressure from the United States and Europe to ensure that China’s soaring exports to Russia since the start of the war do not support the Kremlin’s war effort.

In recent weeks, White House officials have confronted Beijing over what they see as substantial support — in the form of goods such as machine tools, drone and turbojet engines, and microelectronics — from China to Russia’s defense industrial base. Beijing criticized the United States, accusing it of making “baseless accusations” about “normal trade and economic exchanges” between China and Russia.

Zhou Chengfeng/VCG/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s convoy passes Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Wednesday.

The war in Ukraine, as well as the conflict in Gaza, are expected to be on the agenda of Xi and Putin’s meetings in Beijing on Thursday, alongside discussions on expanding their trade, security and energy ties.

Ahead of the trip, Putin praised the “unprecedented level of strategic partnership” between the two countries in an interview with Chinese state media Xinhua.

He said the leaders aimed to “strengthen foreign policy coordination” and deepen cooperation in “industry and high technology, outer space and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, ‘artificial intelligence, renewable energy and other innovative sectors’.

He also praised “Chinese approaches to resolving the crisis in Ukraine.” Beijing has never condemned the Russian invasion, but rather claims neutrality in the conflict. On the eve of a planned peace conference in Switzerland last month, Xi called for peace talks that take into account the positions of both sides.

The two leaders – who declared a “no-holds-barred” partnership weeks before the February 2022 invasion and are known for their personal chemistry – have continued to strengthen their countries’ diplomatic, trade and security ties since the start of the war. Xi also traveled to Moscow in 2023 for his first international visit after beginning his new term as Chinese president.

The two leaders see each other as indispensable partners in their converging vision to reshape a world order they see as dominated by the United States and seeking to contain its rise. They are expected to discuss Russia’s hosting of the BRICS group later this year. The bloc, positioned as an alternative to the Western-backed G7, expanded earlier this year to include more members, including Iran hostile to the United States.

Xi and Putin are also expected to sign a number of bilateral agreements, the Kremlin announced earlier this week. They will celebrate 75 years of their diplomatic relations at a “gala”, according to Chinese state media.

Besides meeting with Xi in Beijing, Putin is also expected to visit Harbin, the capital of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province bordering Russia’s Far East, where he will attend trade forums and cooperation.

The region, historically the scene of long-simmering border tensions between the two neighbors, which erupted in the conflict between China and the Soviet Union in 1969, has seen increasing connectivity with parts of the Russian Far East in recent years. last years.

Putin is also expected to meet with students and faculty at the Harbin Institute of Technology, a university sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2020 for its alleged role in purchasing items for the Chinese military.

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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