The Arizona Republic

Xi’s Moscow visit gives Putin a political boost

- Vladimir Isachenkov

“Our cooperatio­n in the internatio­nal arena undoubtedl­y helps strengthen the basic principles of the global order and multipolar­ity.” Vladimir Putin, Russian president

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin warmly welcomed Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the Kremlin on Monday, 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 reelection 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 U.N. Security Council, also have held joint military drills.

The leaders 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 reelection 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 undoubted

ly 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 U.S. 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 criticizin­g Russia.

“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 Putin was likely to offer Xi a “detailed explanatio­n” of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. Broader talks involving officials from both countries on a range of subjects were scheduled for Tuesday.

For Putin, Xi’s presence is a prestigiou­s diplomatic triumph amid Western efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine.

In an article published in the Chinese People’s Daily newspaper, Putin described Xi’s visit as a “landmark event” that “reaffirms the special nature of the Russia-China partnershi­p.”

Putin also said the meeting sent a message to Washington that the two countries aren’t prepared to accept attempts to weaken them.

“The U.S. policy of simultaneo­usly deterring Russia and China, as well as all those who do not bend to the American diktat, is getting ever fiercer and more aggressive,” he wrote.

Xi’s trip came after the Internatio­nal Criminal Court in The Hague announced Friday 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 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.

“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.

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.”

Although they boast of a “no-limits” partnershi­p, Beijing has conducted a China First policy. It has shrunk from supplying Russia’s military – a move that could worsen relations with Washington and turn European trade partners against Beijing. On the other hand, it has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and has censured Western sanctions against Moscow, while accusing NATO and the United States of provoking Putin’s military action.

China last month called for a ceasefire 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 and said Putin and Xi would discuss it. 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 Defense Council, tweeted on Monday.

That means restoring “sovereignt­y, independen­ce and territoria­l integrity,” he wrote.

The Kremlin doesn’t recognize the authority of the Internatio­nal Criminal Court and has rejected its move against Putin as “legally null and void.” China, the U.S. and Ukraine also don’t recognize the ICC, but the court’s announceme­nt tarnished Putin’s internatio­nal standing.

China’s Foreign Ministry called on the ICC to “respect the jurisdicti­onal immunity” of a head of state.

 ?? SERGEI KARPUKHIN/SPUTNIK ?? Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat on Monday in Moscow.
SERGEI KARPUKHIN/SPUTNIK Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat on Monday in Moscow.

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