Putin visits “dear friend” Xi in a show of borderless partnership

BEIJING (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a widely watched visit aimed at demonstrating trust and “borderless” partnership between the two countries even as the war in Ukraine continues. I raged on.

In his second known trip abroad since the International Criminal Court based in The Hague issued an arrest warrant against him in March, Putin and his accompanying delegation arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday morning, where he was received by the Chinese Minister of Commerce. Wang Wentao.

This is also the Kremlin chief’s first official trip outside the former Soviet Union this year, after visiting Kyrgyzstan, the former Soviet republic, earlier this month.

The International Criminal Court, which accused Putin of illegally deporting children from Ukraine, requires the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory. Neither Kyrgyzstan nor China are members of the International Criminal Court, which was established to prosecute war crimes.

Xi last saw his “dear friend” in Moscow a few days after the arrest warrant was issued. At that time, Xi invited Putin to attend the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, an international cooperation forum supported by the Chinese leader.

When Putin arrived at the Great Hall of the People to attend an evening banquet organized for world leaders and dignitaries attending the forum, Xi had a smile on his face as the two men shook hands.

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Putin, as the forum’s chief guest, stood to Xi’s right as world leaders took group photos in the Great Hall.

On Wednesday, Putin will also speak at the forum after Xi delivers his opening remarks. The two sides are scheduled to hold bilateral talks later that day.

Beijing rejected Western criticism of its partnership with Moscow even as the war in Ukraine showed no sign of stopping, insisting that their relations do not violate international norms, and that China has the right to cooperate with any country it chooses.

Putin’s last visit to China to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing was in February 2022, when Russia and China announced a “borderless” partnership days before the Russian president sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine.

This will be Putin’s third attendance at the Belt and Road Forum, which continues until Wednesday. He attended the previous two forums in 2017 and 2019.

Belt and Road

The forum focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative, a grand plan launched by Xi a decade ago that he hopes will build global infrastructure and energy networks linking Asia to Africa and Europe via land and sea routes.

Putin praised the initiative, saying it was a platform for international cooperation, where “no one imposes anything on others.”

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia has strengthened its energy ties with China in a sign of their economic cooperation.

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Russia exports about two million barrels of oil per day to China, more than a third of its total crude oil exports. Moscow also aims to build a second natural gas pipeline to China.

Although the heads of the two giant Russian oil and gas companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, will be part of Putin’s traveling delegation, it is not expected that new deals will be reached in the energy field.

The trip is not a “full bilateral” visit, but rather a visit that takes place on the sidelines of an international conference, according to the Kremlin.

Ryan Wu reports. Additional reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne. Edited by Christopher Cushing and Simon Cameron-Moore

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