Vladimir Putin welcomes ‘dear friend’ Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo: Sputnik/Sergei Karpukhin/Pool via Reuters)

Vladimir Putin and his "dear friend" Chinese leader Xi Jinping scheduled more meetings on Tuesday, following a Kremlin dinner at which the isolated Russian president highlighted his most potent partner in the face of Western criticism of the Ukrainian conflict.

America blasted Xi's visit, claiming that the fact that it occurred just days after an international court accused Putin of war crimes suggested that Beijing was providing "diplomatic cover" for Moscow to commit additional crimes.

That was Xi's first travel abroad since last month when he earned an extraordinary third term. While strengthening economic ties with his closest partner, the Chinese leader has attempted to present Beijing as a possible peacemaker in Ukraine.

Putin and Xi welcomed one other as "dear friends" when they met at the Kremlin on Monday. Russian state news agencies subsequently claimed they held casual discussions for about four hours, with more official talks slated for Tuesday.

Putin informed Xi in televised remarks that he respected China's recommendations for resolving the Ukraine problem. He admitted feeling "somewhat envious" of China's "extremely effective method for expanding the economy and bolstering the state."

Xi, for his part, lauded Putin and predicted that the Russians would reelect him the following year.

Moscow has been actively publicizing Xi's upcoming visit for months. As the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant charging Putin with war crimes for deporting children from Ukraine, the timing of the Chinese leader's backing took on a new significance.

Moscow denies illegally expelling children, claiming it has sheltered orphans for their protection. It initiated criminal proceedings against the prosecutor and judges of the court. Beijing stated that the warrant demonstrated double standards.

According to the West, the warrant should brand the Russian leader a pariah.

The fact that President Xi is travelling to Russia just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin suggests that China does not feel obligated to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Instead of condemning these atrocities, it would provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue committing them.

John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House, stated that Xi should use his influence to persuade Putin to withdraw Russian forces from Ukraine. Washington feared that Beijing might instead call for a truce allowing Russian troops to remain.

China has presented a plan to resolve the Ukraine problem, which the West widely dismisses as a tactic to buy Putin time to reorganize his forces and consolidate his control over occupied territory.

According to Kirby, Russia and China "do not have the same network of friends and partners" as the United States, which is why they are deepening their ties today.

"I'd say it's more of a marriage of convenience than devotion," Kirby told reporters.

In recent weeks, America has expressed concern that China may arm Russia, something Beijing has rejected.

Kyiv, which maintains that the war cannot end unless Moscow withdraws its soldiers, cautiously welcomed Beijing's peace initiative last month when it was announced.

China arming Russia might lead to World War III, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who believes Beijing is aware of this risk. He has requested that Xi talks with him.

Putin and Xi forged a "no limits" partnership last year, just before Putin authorized the invasion of Ukraine. Putin asserts that he intends to end a threat to Russia posed by its neighbour's movements toward the West; Kyiv and the West view this as an unjustified attack on a sovereign state.

The Russian assault has destroyed Ukrainian cities, prompted millions of people to flee, and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.

The threat of a larger-scale war persisted. The Russian defence ministry reported that a Su-35 fighter jet was scrambled over the Baltic Sea on Monday in response to two American strategic bombers flying in the area of the Russian border, but that it returned to base once the bombers departed.

After being intercepted by Russian jets on March 14, a US military surveillance drone crashed into the Black Sea, marking the first documented direct military confrontation between Russia and the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Monday in Brussels, several European Union countries collectively decided to purchase one million 155 mm artillery ammunition for Ukraine. Each side fires tens of thousands of rounds daily.

The United States has unveiled its newest $350 million military aid package, including ammunition for HIMARS rocket launchers, howitzers, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, HARM missiles, anti-tank weaponry, and riverboats.

On Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that a blast in the north of the Crimean peninsula destroyed Russian cruise missiles intended for use by the Russian Black Sea fleet.

Fierce fighting continued at the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian soldiers have held out since last summer in the longest and bloodiest war struggle.

Moscow, which has not succeeded significantly since August, has begun a big winter offensive utilizing hundreds of thousands of newly enlisted reservists and recently released prisoners.

Ukraine, which regained vast swaths of territory in the second half of 2022, has maintained a defensive posture since November, intending to drain Russia's assaulting forces before launching its counteroffensive.

Publish : 2023-03-21 10:03:00

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