- Putin’s comments underscore shift from West to China
- Both are distrustful of the West
- Xi’s veiled remarks contrast sharply with Putin’s upbeat tone
- The visit was not mentioned in Chinese media reports or videoconferences.
- Xi Jinping Offers No Support for Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Dec 30 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he looked forward to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia early next year, which would be a public outcry of Beijing’s solidarity with Russia’s setback in Ukraine .
But China’s official reading of the two leaders’ video summit highlighted their differences over developing the alliance, made no mention of the visit, and stressed that Beijing, which refuses to support or condemn the invasion, would maintain its “objective and impartial” position on the issue.
Since sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia has turned its back on the Western powers that ostracized it economically and politically and armed Ukraine, and instead courted the rising global power of longtime rival China.
“We are looking forward to you, dear Mr. President, dear friend, we are looking forward to your state visit to Moscow next spring,” Putin told Xi in an impassioned eight-minute introductory statement broadcast on state television.
“This will demonstrate to the world the strength of Russia-China relations on key issues.”
He also said his goal was to increase military cooperation with China — although China Central Television, the state broadcaster, did not mention that in its report of the call.
Although Xi called Putin a “dear friend,” his introductory remarks were only about a quarter as long as Putin’s and were more pragmatic in tone.
The pair signed an “unrestricted” strategic partnership in February, days after Russia sent armed forces into Ukraine in what it called a “special military operation” amid a mutual mistrust of the West.
Russia has been forced to seek other markets and has overtaken Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude supplier as major Western economies responded to the invasion with unprecedented, coordinated sanctions. Bilateral trade has soared and financial ties have expanded.
Russia’s finance ministry doubled the largest possible share of the yuan in its National Wealth Fund (NWF) to 60% on Friday, as Moscow seeks to “de-dollarize” its economy and end sanctions including the U.S., Europe The dependent alliance members of the “unfriendly” countries are Great Britain and Japan.
Moscow has also publicly backed Xi Jinping’s stance on Taiwan and accused the West of trying to provoke a conflict over the status of the self-governing island claimed by China.
Putin told Xi: “In the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West, you and I share the same view on the reasons, process and logic of the changing global geopolitical landscape.”
The Chinese leader, however, has been less critical of Western countries, China’s main export market, and has been cool about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Instead of condemning, China emphasized the need for peace, but Putin publicly acknowledged in September that his Chinese counterparts were “worried” about Russia’s actions.
So far, Beijing has been careful not to provide direct material support for an invasion that would trigger Western sanctions on China.
However, Xi did tell Putin on Friday that China was ready to step up strategic cooperation with Russia against the backdrop of what he called a “difficult” global situation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks were substantive and constructive, but no date has been set for Xi’s visit.
Reporting by Reuters; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Shanghai; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Tomasz Janowski
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