Putin, Xi pledge friendship but talks yield no Ukraine breakthrough
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin emerged from two days of talks on Tuesday (Mar 22) with warm words of friendship between China and Russia and joint criticism of the West, but no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough over Ukraine.
Xi’s visit to Moscow – long touted by the Kremlin as a show of support from its most powerful friend – featured plenty of demonstrative bonhomie. The two leaders referred to each other as dear friends, promised economic cooperation and described their countries’ relations as the best they have ever been.
A joint statement included familiar accusations against the West – that Washington was undermining global stability and NATO barging into the Asia-Pacific region.
On Ukraine, Putin praised Xi for a peace plan he proposed last month, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting it.
“We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side,” Putin said.
But Xi barely mentioned the conflict at all, saying that China had an “impartial position” on it.
Responding to the meeting, the White House said China’s position was not impartial, and urged Beijing to pressure Russia to withdraw from Ukraine’s sovereign territory to end the war.
The summit, Putin’s biggest display of diplomacy since he ordered his invasion of Ukraine a year ago, was partly upstaged in Kyiv, where Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made an unannounced visit and met President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy.
The latest world leader to make the gruelling overland journey to show solidarity with Ukraine, Kishida toured Bucha on the capital’s outskirts, left littered with dead last year by fleeing Russian troops. He lay a wreath by a church before observing a moment of silence and bowing.
“The world was astonished to see innocent civilians in Bucha killed one year ago. I really feel great anger at the atrocity upon visiting that very place here,” Kishida said.