Putin, China’s top diplomat vow to strengthen ties ahead of Ukraine war anniversary

(CNN) Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations between his country and China were “reaching new milestones” as Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi wrapped up a visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

“Russian-Chinese relations are developing as we planned in previous years. Everything is progressing and growing,” Putin told reporters. “Cooperation in the international arena between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, as we have repeatedly said, is very important to stabilize the international situation.”

Wang’s high-profile visit, days before the anniversary of the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, is widely believed to be a precursor to a meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In December 2022, Putin and Xi held a virtual meeting, in which the Russian leader described relations between the two countries as “the best in history”, saying they could “withstand all tests”, and invited Xi to visit Moscow in the spring of 2023. .

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two leaders would meet “in the coming months,” citing people familiar with the plan. Arrangements for the trip are “in the early stages” and the timing has not been finalized, with the trip likely in April or early May, the WSJ reported.

Wang arrived in Moscow days after U.S. officials went public with concerns about how China’s continued partnership with Russia could affect the conflict in Ukraine — and hours after Putin delivered a keynote address on the conflict, where he announced the plans. Stop Russia’s meddling In its last nuclear arms deal with the US.

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The Chinese diplomat held several high-level meetings in the Russian capital during his visit, having earlier spoken with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday and Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s Security Council and a close Putin ally, on Tuesday.

Wang told Lavrov that he hoped the two countries would reach a “new consensus” in advancing bilateral relations.

“I am ready today to exchange views with you, my old friend, on the progress of our mutual relations, and I think we will definitely reach a new consensus,” Wang told Lavrov on Wednesday.

“No matter how the international situation changes, China is ready to maintain a positive trend with Russia in building a new kind of cooperative relationship between major powers.”

Congratulating Lavrov on his recent promotion to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top foreign policy adviser, Wang said he was trying to “strengthen and deepen Sino-Russian friendship.”

Under the leadership of Xi and Putin, the two countries maintained their strategic commitment — in an apparent dig at the United States — to “resolutely oppose any unilateral or bullying behavior, and irresolutely safeguard their respective sovereignty, security and development interests.”

On Tuesday, Wang told Patrushev that Beijing’s ties with Moscow were “solid as a rock.”

“Sino-Russian relations are mature and solid as a rock, and will withstand the test of the changing international situation,” Wang was quoted as saying by Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik.

“We are willing to work with the Russian side to resolutely protect national interests and dignity and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas in accordance with high-level agreements,” Wang said.

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Patrushev told Wang that China and Russia must stick together in the face of increasing pressure from the West, citing what he falsely described as “bloody events unleashed by the West in Ukraine.”

While trying to deny responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths, Russia has repeatedly accused the West of instigating the war in Ukraine — and Beijing has parroted the news, blaming Moscow’s unprovoked invasion on the United States and its NATO allies. Partners.

“In the context of the collective West’s campaign to contain Russia and China, further deepening of Russian-Chinese integration and contacts in the international arena is of particular importance,” Patrushev was quoted as saying by Sputnik.

Patrushev also said Russia and China should strive to create a new, “more fair” world order, according to Sputnik.

A Reading China’s foreign ministry said the two officials agreed to oppose “Cold War attitudes, camp conflict and ideological opposition” — a thinly veiled criticism of the United States — and in an apparent reference to Beijing’s ambitions to make more efforts to “improve global governance” and reshape the world order in its favor.

The statement did not further say that Wang and Patrushev “exchanged their views” on the Ukraine issue.

Concerns about China’s role

Wang’s visit comes after the US president Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Ukraine Washington and its European allies on Monday came together over the past year to support the struggling country through both military and humanitarian aid and economic sanctions against Russia.

The Chinese leadership claimed neutrality in the conflict, but instead refused to condemn Russia’s invasion. Expanding business relationships and continuing large-scale joint military exercises, Including this week.

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But during engagements in European cities in recent days, Wang has sought to present China as a supporter of peace and dialogue, saying Beijing will make its position known at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday. “Political Solution” of crisis.

These views drew skepticism from many Western leaders Concerns Beijing is considering providing risky military aid to Russia.

On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang reiterated Beijing’s message on Ukraine at a security forum in the Chinese capital. He said China was “deeply concerned” that the conflict would “spin out of control” and would continue to push for peace talks and offer “Chinese wisdom” to bring about a political solution.

“At the same time, we call on the countries involved to immediately stop adding fuel to the fire, stop blaming China, and stop raising the rhetoric of Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow,” he said, referring to the United States. Its partners.

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed to this report

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