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Chinese President Xi and his friend Putin meet in Moscow as Ukraine war rages

Chinese President Xi and his friend Putin meet in Moscow as Ukraine war rages

Diplomat Times (Moscow)- Chinese President Xi Jinping met his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, seeking both to deepen economic ties with an ally he sees as a useful counterweight to the West and to promote Beijing’s role as a potential peacemaker in Ukraine.

Mr Xi was the first leader to meet the Russian President since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since its invasion.

Moscow said the charge was among a number of “clearly hostile displays” and opened a criminal case against the ICC prosecutor and judges. Beijing said the warrant reflects double standards.

Russia is presenting Mr Xi’s trip, his first since securing an unprecedented third term this month, as evidence that it has a powerful friend prepared to stand with it against a hostile West.

READ MORE ABOUT PUTIN | The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Putin

The two men greeted one another as “dear friend” when they met in the Kremlin on Monday afternoon before a dinner. They will hold formal talks on Tuesday.

Mr Putin told Mr Xi he viewed China’s proposals for a resolution of the Ukraine conflict with respect and was also “slightly envious” of China’s rapid development in recent decades.

“China has created a very effective system for developing the economy and strengthening the state. It is much more effective than in many other countries,” he said.

For Mr Xi, the visit is a diplomatic tightrope.

China has released a 12-point proposal to solve the Ukraine crisis, while strengthening ties with Moscow.

“We are partners in comprehensive strategic cooperation. It is this status that determines that there should be close ties between our countries,” Mr Xi said on Monday, according to translated remarks carried by Russian state television.

Beijing has repeatedly dismissed Western accusations that it is planning to arm Russia but says it wants a closer energy partnership after boosting imports of Russian coal, gas and oil.

Western sanctions made Russian energy cheaper, saving China billions of dollars, but its top trade partners remain the United States and European Union.

Mr Xi also said he was convinced the Russian people would support Mr Putin in a presidential election due in 2024.

“Thanks to your strong leadership, Russia has made significant progress in achieving the prosperity of the country in recent years. I am sure that the Russian people will strongly support you in your good endeavours,” he told Mr Putin.

Ukraine said China should press Russia to stop its invasion.

“We expect Beijing to use its influence on Moscow to make it put an end to the aggressive war against Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.

Ukraine and its Western allies say any truce would just buy Mr Putin time to reinforce ahead of a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive and that for Russia and China to uphold international law as they say they do, they must agree to Russia’s withdrawal.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated that call, adding that US President Joe Biden wanted to speak with Mr Xi to keep communication channels open.

Mr Putin signed a “no limits” partnership with Mr Xi last year, shortly before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine to end what he said was a threat to Russia from its moves towards the West.

The year-long war has killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed cities and forced millions to flee.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin would provide Mr Xi with detailed “clarifications” of Russia’s position, without elaborating.

Source : AFP