Putin welcomes China's Xi to Kremlin amid Ukraine war (2023)

Much of Mariupol was reduced to rubble by Russian bombing before Moscow finally took control of the city in May. (CNN)


Posted: Mar 20, 2023 at 5:23 AM m. CDT|Updated March 20, 2023 at 2:59 PM. m. CDT

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warmly welcomed Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the Kremlin on Monday, sending a strong message to Western leaders that their efforts to isolate Moscow over the fighting in Ukraine have failed.

Xi's trip, his first trip abroad since his re-election earlier this month, showcased Beijing's new diplomatic arrogance and gave Putin a political boost just days after an international arrest warrant was issued for the leader of the Kremlin for Ukraine-related war crimes.

The two great powers described Xi's three-day trip as an opportunity to deepen their "boundless friendship." China sees Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy and as a partner in fighting what they both see as US aggression, domination of global affairs and unfair punishment of its human rights record.

The two countries, which are among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, also held joint military exercises. US officials have received indications that China is considering supplying Russia with weapons for its fighting in Ukraine, but have seen no evidence that they have actually done so.

Putin welcomes China's Xi to Kremlin amid Ukraine war (1)

The leaders smiled and shook hands before sitting down to start the meeting, calling each other "dear friend" and exchanging pleasantries. Putin congratulated Xi on his re-election and expressed his hope to build even stronger ties.

"China has made a colossal leap in its development in recent years," Putin said, adding that "it is arousing genuine interest around the world and we are even a bit envious," as Xi smiled.

The Kremlin leader welcomed China's proposals for a political settlement in Ukraine, noting that Russia was open to negotiations.

"We will discuss all these issues, including your initiative, which we highly respect," Putin said. "Our international cooperation undoubtedly contributes to strengthening the fundamental principles of global order and multipolarity."

Both Moscow and Beijing have accused Washington of trying to isolate them and impede their development, while challenging it for regional and global leadership.

(Video) Vladimir Putin welcomes Chinese leader Xi Jinping to Moscow amid Ukraine war

In an increasingly multipolar world, the United States and its allies have failed to build a broad front against Putin. While 141 countries condemned Moscow in a United Nations vote to mark the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, several G-20 members including India, China and South Africa abstained. Many African nations have also refrained from openly criticizing Russia.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin may still face trial for war crimes. (CNN, GETTY IMAGES, SPECIAL COURT OF SIERRA LEONE, ICTY)

"We hope the China-Russia strategic partnership will uphold international fairness and justice on the one hand and promote the prosperity and common development of our countries on the other," Xi said.

In their four-and-a-half-hour talks, along with a dinner that included a plate of Pacific seafood and roasted venison with cherry sauce, Putin offered Xi a "detailed explanation" of Moscow's actions in Ukraine, according to the source, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Broader talks on a variety of topics are scheduled for Tuesday.

For Putin, Xi's presence is a prestigious diplomatic push to show partnership amid Western efforts to isolate Russia from Ukraine.

In an article published in the Chinese People's Daily newspaper, Putin described Xi's visit as a "historic event" that "reaffirms the special nature of the Russian-Chinese partnership," saying the meeting signaled that the two countries are not ready, accept attempts to weaken them.

“The US policy of simultaneously deterring Russia and China and all those who do not submit to US dictates is becoming increasingly violent and aggressive,” he wrote.

China presents Xi's visit as part of normal diplomatic exchanges and has given few details about its purpose, though Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Monday that China "maintains its objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis. constructive role in promoting peace talks.” Xi did not directly mention the fighting in Ukraine or his peace plan when she sat down for talks with Putin.

(Video) Putin welcomes China's Xi Jinping to Kremlin amid Ukraine fighting | 9 News Australia

Beijing's leap into Ukraine follows its recent success in brokering talks between Iran and its main rival in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, which has agreed to restore diplomatic relations after years of tensions.

Following that success, Xi urged China to play a bigger role in managing global affairs.

Despite boasting of a "borderless" partnership, Beijing follows a "China first" policy. It has refrained from supplying Russia's armed forces, a move that could sour relations with Washington and turn major European trading partners against China. On the other hand, he refused to condemn Moscow's aggression and criticized Western sanctions against Moscow, while accusing NATO and the United States of provoking Putin's military action.

Western pressure has made Russia increasingly dependent on Beijing, observers said.

Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, noted that Beijing intends to "put Russia more into China's pocket as a minority partner."

Dmitry Oreshkin, a professor at Riga Free University, Latvia, noted that Beijing is benefiting from tensions between Moscow and the West by gaining access to cheap Russian energy resources. "It's very convenient for China, which previously couldn't get this discount," he said.

Last month, China called for a ceasefire and peace talks. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyj welcomed Beijing's commitment cautiously, but the proposal fell through.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby urged Xi to "press President Putin directly on the need to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." He also said the US government believes Xi can "play a constructive role" by speaking directly with Zelenskyy.

The Kremlin welcomed China's peace plan, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that any proposal to keep Russian forces in Ukraine would only force Moscow to re-equip and strengthen itself to meet its needs. to resume the offensive.

"Demanding a ceasefire that does not involve the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively support the ratification of the Russian conquest," he told reporters in Washington. "The world must not be fooled by a tactical move by Russia, backed by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms."

(Video) China's Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin

kyiv officials say they will not abide by the terms of the peace deal.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's allies are stepping up their support. The US State Department announced Monday that the US will send $350 million worth of weapons and equipment to Ukraine. The latest aid package includes ammunition such as rockets for high mobility artillery rocket systems, tankers and river boats.

In Brussels, European Union countries approved an accelerated procedure for delivering artillery shells to Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. He hailed "a historic decision" by the 27-nation bloc and Norway to send 1 million 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine in 12 months.

Xi's trip comes after the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced on Friday that it intends to prosecute Putin for the abduction of thousands of children from Ukraine.

The Kremlin does not recognize the court's authority and has dismissed its actions against Putin as "legally null and void." China, the United States and Ukraine also do not recognize the ICC, but the decision has tarnished Putin's international standing.

China's Foreign Ministry has called on the ICC to "respect the judicial immunity" of a head of state and "avoid politicization and double standards."

Russia's investigative committee responded Monday by opening a criminal case against a prosecutor and three International Criminal Court judges over the arrest warrants against Putin and his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova. The committee called the ICC indictment "unlawful" because, among other things, it involved the "criminal prosecution of a person known to be innocent."


Follow AP's coverage of Ukraine onhttps://apnews.com/hub/rusia-ucrania


(Video) Xi invites Putin to China during Kremlin visit

Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed.

Copyright Associated Press 2023. All rights reserved.

(Video) Putin welcomes China's Xi to Kremlin amid Ukraine war


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