Russian President Putin arrives in China in a show of unity among allies

BEIJING (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing Thursday for a two-day state visit to China, a show of unity between the two authoritarian allies as Moscow presses ahead with a new offensive in Ukraine.

Putin’s visit comes at a time when Russia has become more economically dependent on China after Moscow’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

On the eve of the visit, Putin said in an interview with Chinese media that the Kremlin was ready to negotiate the conflict in Ukraine. “We are open to dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries participating in the conflict, including ours,” the Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Putin as saying.

The Russian President’s two-day visit coincides with his country’s forces doing so I pressed an attack In the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, which began last week in the most significant border incursion since the start of the full-scale invasion, forcing nearly 8,000 people to flee their homes.

Along with Moscow’s efforts to build on its gains in the nearby Donetsk region, the two-year-old war has entered a critical phase for the depleted Ukrainian army, which is now in a critical situation. Waiting for new supplies Anti-aircraft missiles and artillery shells coming from the United States.

The New China News Agency (Xinhua) quoted Putin as saying: “We have never refused to negotiate.” “We seek a comprehensive, sustainable and just settlement of this conflict through peaceful means. We are open to dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including our own.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that any negotiations must include the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian forces, the release of all prisoners, a court for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the new government at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Vyacheslav Prokofiev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a toast at a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 6, 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin says his regime is ready to negotiate the conflict in Ukraine in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of a visit to its partner Beijing, which It supported Moscow in its large-scale invasion of its neighbour.  (Ludovic Marin, pool via AP, file)

FILE – Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a toast at a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 6, 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin says his regime is ready to negotiate the conflict in Ukraine in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of a visit to its partner Beijing, which It supported Moscow in its large-scale invasion of its neighbour. (Ludovic Marin, pool via AP, file)

China claims to be neutral in the conflict, but has backed Moscow’s claims that the West provoked Russia to attack Ukraine, despite Putin’s public admissions of wanting to restore Russia’s century-old borders as a reason for his attack.

Putin blamed the West for the failure of negotiations in the first weeks of the war and praised China’s peace plan in Ukraine, which would allow Moscow to consolidate its regional gains.

He said, “Beijing proposes practical and constructive steps to achieve peace by refraining from pursuing vested interests and the continued escalation of tensions, and reducing the negative impact of the conflict on the global economy.”

Putin said the Chinese proposal in 2023, which was rejected by Ukraine and the West, could “lay the foundation for a political and diplomatic process that takes into account Russia’s security concerns and contributes to achieving a long-term and sustainable peace.”

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The Kremlin said in a statement that during their talks this week, Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will “hold a detailed discussion on the full range of issues related to the comprehensive partnership, strategic cooperation and identify new directions for further development of cooperation between the two countries.” Russia and China are also holding a detailed exchange of views on the most acute international and regional issues.

The visit reinforces efforts by China and Russia to overthrow the US-led Western democratic order in favor of a more authoritarian model that crushes political dissent, human rights and freedom of expression. Putin began his fifth term in office this month.

Speaking Tuesday in the upper house of the Russian parliament, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Beijing are “objectively interested in maintaining our progress in efforts to establish a more just and democratic world order.”

“Russia and China are not alone in their efforts to reform the international system and help create a multipolar world order,” he said.

Lavrov pointed out that “the Moscow-Beijing duo plays a major balancing role in global affairs,” adding that “the Russian President’s upcoming visit to (China) will strengthen our joint work.”

Moscow has forged increasingly close ties with Beijing as the war enters its third year, shifting the bulk of its energy exports to China and relying on Chinese companies to import high-tech components for Russia’s military industries to circumvent Western sanctions.

Military relations between Russia and China have also strengthened. The two countries have conducted a series of joint war exercises in recent years, including naval exercises and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of ​​Japan and the East China Sea. Russian and Chinese ground forces also deployed in the other country’s territory to conduct joint training.

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China remains a major market for the Russian military, while it is also significantly expanding its domestic defense industries, including building aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Putin had previously said that Russia shares very sensitive military technologies with China, which has greatly helped enhance its defense capability. In October 2019, he reported that Russia was helping China develop an early warning system to detect ballistic missile launches — a system that includes ground-based radar and satellites that only Russia and the United States have.

Bodin reported from Taipei.

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