China's Xi to meet Putin in Moscow next week

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Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Moscow next week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials said.

The Kremlin said it would discuss "comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation."

The visit comes amid a lukewarm response from the West to Russia's ally Beijing's proposal to end the war in Ukraine. Western countries have warned Beijing not to supply arms to Moscow.

It will be President Xi's first visit to Russia since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. He is scheduled to have lunch with Putin on Monday, followed by talks on Tuesday.

A State Department spokesman said China would maintain an "objective and objective position" on the Ukraine war and "play a constructive role in promoting peace talks." A spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China is welcome to play a real role in restoring Ukraine's sovereignty.

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The fact that the Chinese leader visited Russia shows Beijing's strong support for Moscow. This is not surprising: Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi share similar worldviews and support the idea of ​​a multipolar world. Last year, the two announced that their partnership knew no bounds. Strictly speaking, this is not true. So far, China has not provided lethal aid to Russia to help it win the war in Ukraine, despite US claims that China is considering doing so.

As for the announced partnership between Moscow and Beijing, Russia, whose economy is one-tenth the size of China's, is increasingly emerging as the junior partner. So the Chinese government must have some influence over Russia. Other factors fueling interest in the visit include Beijing's claims of neutrality and its refusal to challenge speculation that it could act as an honest broker between Moscow and Kiev. It may not be a coincidence that Monday's meeting took place on the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, which is opposed by Russia and China.

Crucially, China is emerging from a major diplomatic upheaval that is unraveling a deal between Middle Eastern rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties. However, some argue that its stated neutrality is false and that it is in Beijing's geopolitical interests to continue the war as Russia does its dirty work, confronting the West and gobbling up its resources and money.

China's proposal calls for peaceful negotiations and respect for national sovereignty. But the 12-point document does not specifically say that Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

In February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wanted to meet with Xi — "I really want to believe that China will not supply weapons to Russia," he said. Some US media reported that President Xi Jinping would have a phone conversation with Zelensky after the Chinese leader's visit to Moscow, but these reports have not been confirmed.

Kyiv has been pushing hard for some form of contact. Ukraine sees President Xi's visit as a signal to the world that Russia at least has some allies.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the BBC before news of President Xi Jinping's visit was announced: “I don't think China has reached the point where it wants to arm Russia. I also do not think that the visit will bring peace... The Moscow visit is a message in itself, but I do not think that it will have immediate consequences. "

Kuleba said the message was that "China and Russia are very close, close enough that a Chinese leader can visit his Russian counterpart and he doesn't feel good.

"And I think it's a message to the whole world, to the West, but most importantly to non-Western countries, that Russia is not alone and China is talking to them."

The US is keen for Xi Jinping and Zelensky to work together. "It would be very good for the two of them to talk," said a spokesman for the National Security Council.

On Thursday, China's foreign minister urged Kyiv and Moscow to resume peace talks as soon as possible in a telephone conversation with Kuleb, who said the two countries had discussed "the importance of the principle of territorial integrity".

Read more: NATO Says Russia Is Provocative and Norway to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

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