Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a highly anticipated visit that is seen as a show of solidarity between the two countries despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The visit is Putin’s second known trip abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him in March, and his first official trip outside of the former Soviet Union this year.
Putin and Xi have a close relationship, and the two leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues during their meeting, including the war in Ukraine, bilateral trade, and security cooperation.
China has been reluctant to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has also refused to join Western sanctions against Moscow. Beijing has said that it respects Russia’s sovereignty and security interests, and that it believes the conflict in Ukraine should be resolved through diplomacy.
The United States and other Western countries have expressed concern about China’s close ties to Russia, and have warned Beijing against providing military or economic support to Moscow.
Putin’s visit to Beijing is seen as a major diplomatic coup for Russia, as it shows that Moscow still has powerful allies despite its isolation from the West. It is also a sign that China is willing to continue its strategic partnership with Russia, even in the face of international pressure.
Belt and Road Forum
Putin is also scheduled to attend the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, an international cooperation forum championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a massive infrastructure development project that aims to connect China with countries around the world through a network of roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure projects.
Putin has praised the BRI, saying it is a platform for international cooperation and development. Russia has signed several BRI agreements with China, and the two countries have cooperated on a number of infrastructure projects.
Since the start of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia has cemented its energy ties with China in a sign of their economic cooperation.
Russia exports around 2.0 million barrels of oil per day to China, more than a third of its total crude oil exports. Moscow also aims to build a second natural gas pipeline to China.
While the heads of Russia’s oil and gas giants Rosneft and Gazprom will be part of Putin’s travelling delegation, no new deals in energy are expected to be announced during the visit.
The Kremlin has said that Putin’s trip to Beijing is not a “full-fledged bilateral” visit, but one made on the sidelines of an international conference.