Asia

Xi to visit Moscow in first trip to Russia since start of Ukraine war

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in Russia from Mar 20 to 22 for a state visit after he was invited by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday (Mar 17).

This will be Xi’s first trip to Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine.¬†

Xi last visited Russia in 2019, though Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing last year and the two leaders also met at a regional security gathering in Uzbekistan in September.

The visit comes as China offers to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with scepticism in the West given Beijing’s diplomatic support for Russia.

“During the talks, they will discuss topical issues of further development of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,” the Kremlin said.

“A number of important bilateral documents will be signed,” it added.

Xi will¬†exchange opinions on major international and regional issues with Putin during his visit to Russia, China’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

The objective of the visit is to further deepen bilateral trust, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular news briefing.

China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, when Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The two sides have since continued to reaffirm the strength of their ties. Trade between the two countries has soared since the invasion, and China is Russia’s biggest buyer of oil, a key source of revenue for Moscow.

Beijing’s foreign ministry did not confirm whether Xi also planned to hold a rumoured call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when asked at a routine press conference on Friday.

China’s foreign minister on Thursday urged Kyiv and Moscow to restart peace talks “as soon as possible”, while Kyiv said the call also raised the importance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Beijing “hopes that all parties will keep calm, exercise restraint, resume peace talks as soon as possible and return to the track of political settlement”, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call.

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