Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his expectation of an upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, following previous reports indicating his plans to visit China in October.
Russia’s Pivot to China as Its Key Ally
In recent times, Russia has increasingly turned to China as its most significant ally. This shift comes in the wake of Russia’s strained relations with the West, particularly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow has labeled a “special military operation.”
China’s Support for Russia Amid Western Criticism
China has refrained from blaming Russia for the conflict in Ukraine and has criticized Western sanctions against Russia. Simultaneously, China has benefited economically from securing discounts for oil and gas, commodities that Russia can no longer sell to Europe due to sanctions.
Putin’s Potential Visit to China in October
Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov revealed in July that President Putin had plans to visit China in October. This visit was linked to China’s third “Belt and Road” forum and was in response to an invitation extended by President Xi during his significant state visit to Russia in March.
Strengthening Russian-Chinese Relations
Putin and Xi have consistently signaled a desire for closer ties and a shared rejection of the Western-centric world order. They solidified this commitment by signing a “no limits” partnership agreement in Beijing just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, Putin did not explicitly confirm his travel to China again during a televised meeting with selected schoolchildren. Notably, Putin has not ventured abroad since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest in March, right before Xi’s visit, on suspicion of war crimes in Ukraine.
Putin’s words during the televised meeting hinted at the upcoming meeting with President Xi: “Quite soon we will have events, and there will be a meeting with the president of the People’s Republic of China.”
He added, “He (Xi) calls me his friend, and I am happy to call him my friend because he is a person who does a lot for the development of Russian-Chinese relations.”
Recent Diplomatic Engagements
In the previous week, Putin participated remotely in a summit of BRICS countries, which include Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. Furthermore, he will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) leading industrialized and developing countries in India on September 9-10.
The anticipated meeting between Putin and Xi continues to underscore the evolving dynamics in international relations, with Russia and China solidifying their partnership amid geopolitical shifts.