Putin says Xi has questions and concerns about Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he understood Xi Jinping had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine, but praised the Chinese leader for what he called a “balanced” stance on the conflict. Russia’s war has killed tens of thousands and pushed the global economy into uncharted waters with food and energy prices soaring amid the biggest showdown between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
In their first face-to-face meeting since the war, Xi said he was very happy to see “my old friend” again after Putin said US attempts to create a unipolar world would fail. “We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin told Xi, whom he addressed as “Dear comrade Xi Jinping, dear friend.”
“We understand your questions and your concern about this. At today’s meeting we will of course explain our position, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have already spoken about it before.” Putin’s first remarks on Chinese concerns about the war come just days after a lightning rout of his forces in northeastern Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later told reporters that the closed-door talks had been excellent. “Our assessments of the international situation completely coincide…there is no discrepancy,” he said. “We will continue to coordinate our actions, including at the next United Nations General Assembly.”
Xi did not mention Ukraine in his public remarks. A Chinese reading of the meeting also did not mention Ukraine. He said China is willing to provide strong support to Russia on issues related to its core interests, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
China has refrained from condemning Russia’s operation against Ukraine or calling it an “invasion”, in line with the Kremlin, which calls the war a “special military operation”. When Xi and Putin last met in person, just weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion, they declared a ‘limitless’ partnership and signed a pledge to work together more against the West.
Beijing is unsettled by the impact on the global economy and has been careful not to provide material support to Russia that could trigger Western sanctions on China’s own economy. ‘MY OLD FRIEND’
The Xi-Putin partnership is considered one of the most significant geopolitical developments after China’s spectacular rise over the past 40 years. But the war has underscored the different trajectories of China and Russia: one a rising superpower whose economy is expected to overtake the United States within a decade; the other, a former superpower struggling with a grueling war.
Once a leader in the global communist hierarchy, Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 is now a junior partner to a resurgent China that is already at the helm of some 21st century technologies. “China stands ready to work with Russia to play a leading role in demonstrating great power accountability and injecting stability and positive energy into a turbulent world,” Xi told Putin.
While Xi has now met Putin in person 39 times since becoming president of China in 2013, he has yet to meet Joe Biden in person since the latter became president of the United States in 2021. Xi’s trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was his first outside China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. His last trip outside of China was a visit to Myanmar in January 2020.
TAIWAN, ENERGY Putin and Xi share a worldview that sees the West as decadent and in decline, just as China challenges US supremacy.
Putin explicitly backed China over Taiwan. “We intend to firmly adhere to the ‘One China’ principle,” Putin said. “We condemn the provocations by the United States and its satellites in the Taiwan Strait.”
As the West tries to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, Putin is looking to boost exports to China and Asia, possibly with a pipeline through Mongolia. In a meeting with Xi and Putin, Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh said he supports the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Russia to China via Mongolia.
Russia has been studying for years the possibility of a major new gas pipeline – the Power of Siberia 2 – crossing Mongolia to deliver Russian gas to China. It will transport 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year, about a third of what Russia usually sells to Europe.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Woo, Yew Lun Tian and David Ljunggren; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Tomasz Janowski, Jon Boyle and Jonathan Oatis)
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)