Xi-Putin meeting: China calls itself Ukraine peacemaker, but US says Xi’s talks with Putin provide ‘diplomatic cover’ for war

Hong Kong (CNN) Xi Jinping is set for a second day of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, but Western allies remain skeptical of any progress in the war in Ukraine, with Washington saying the Chinese leader’s visit provides Moscow with “diplomatic cover”.

According to Russian state news agency TASS, the second day of the state visit to Moscow began with news that Xi had invited his Putin to visit China of his choice later this year.

Xi will hold a second round of talks with Putin later in the afternoon before attending a ceremony to sign joint deals and address the media. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the two leaders will also attend a state dinner.

A key question of global interest hanging over the talks is whether any results will have an impact Conflict in UkraineRussia continues an offensive there A massive humanitarian crisis And tens of thousands died.

China has sought to portray itself as an eager broker of peace in recent weeks, calling for a cease-fire and peace talks in vague terms released last month.

Putin said on Monday that Russia had “carefully studied” China’s plans and promised “an opportunity to discuss the matter”.

But there is widespread skepticism about China’s position on resolving the conflict, centered on concerns that nothing Beijing has offered so far has reflected Ukraine’s demand that all Russian troops leave its territory.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday Hit about Xi’s arrivalHe noted that this came days after the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued Arrest warrant To Putin.

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“China has no responsibility to hold the Kremlin responsible for the atrocities in Ukraine, and instead of condemning them, Russia will provide diplomatic cover for those crimes to continue,” Washington’s top diplomat said.

“Any call for a cease-fire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would be effectively supporting the assertion of a Russian victory” because it would “allow President Putin to relax, redeploy his troops, and then resume the war one step at a time. Much to Russia’s advantage,” he added.

Oleksiy Danilov, the Ukrainian secretary of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council, said on Twitter that day that “successful implementation” of the Chinese “peace plan” must begin with the “surrender or withdrawal” of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory.

Xi’s visit to Moscow Amazing trip to Ukraine Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

Xi invited Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to visit China during a meeting on Tuesday morning, TASS reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, walks past a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, March 20, 2023.

‘Strategic Selection’

As the war rages on in the talks, Tuesday’s discussions between the leaders and their senior officials are likely to focus on issues closer to home, such as security, joint diplomatic objectives and trade.

In a readout from China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday, the two leaders looked forward to next day’s talks and drew up a “new blueprint” for the integration of China and Russia’s comprehensive strategic partnership “in the coming years”.

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That bilateral relationship has grown increasingly close under two authoritarian leaders, each of whom recognizes the other as a key partner and counterweight to a perceived U.S.-led world order — especially as tensions between each with the U.S. have grown recently. years.

Their relationship became even more important to Russia in its wake of the war, as long-standing sanctions by countries around the world made them more reliant on willing trading partners like China.

Xi’s comments indicate that Beijing sees his Moscow visit as a means to improve the capacity of the two countries. A world order It supports their own agendas.

At the Kremlin on Monday, the Chinese leader said it was a “strategic choice” for Beijing to develop ties with its “big neighbor” based on its “own fundamental interests and prevailing trends in the world.”

He called on the two countries to “strengthen coordination and cooperation in multilateral platforms such as the UN,” according to a readout by China’s Foreign Ministry.

The meeting gives China an opportunity to further expand economic ties that have grown more loose following Russia’s expulsion from the World Financial System.

Last year, China Import of discounted Russian fuel Increased – and deals on energy or economic cooperation will be on the table on Tuesday.

A fine line

Chinese officials have tried to steer clear of the Russian invasion, which began days after Xi and Putin announced a “no limits” partnership last February.

Since then, Beijing has claimed neutrality in the conflict, but The Kremlin echoed the rhetoric He blamed NATO for the conflict, refused to condemn the invasion, and supported Moscow financially by significantly increasing Russian fuel supplies.

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Western leaders are closely watching for signs of direct material support for Russia on its front line in Ukraine — Beijing warned last month that it was considering sending dangerous aid to Russia.

China has denied the allegation.

Xi appears to be using the highly-watched meeting as a platform to continue Beijing’s bid to position itself as a voice for peace and a responsible global player, unlike the United States, without any results on conflict resolution. Seen as “fuel” for the conflict through its support of Ukraine.

“Most countries support de-escalation of tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire,” China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Putin on Monday. “China will continue to play a constructive role.”

CNN’s Michael Conte, Kylie Atwood and Svitlana Vlasova contributed to this report.

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