China and Russia reaffirm ties as Moscow presses offensive in Ukraine

China and Russia reaffirm ties as Moscow presses offensive in Ukraine

BEIJING (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his effort to resolve the Ukraine conflict at a Beijing summit Thursday, where the two leaders reaffirmed a “no-limits” partnership that has grown deeper as both co

BEIJING (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his effort to resolve the Ukraine conflict at a Beijing summit Thursday, where the two leaders reaffirmed a “no-limits” partnership that has grown deeper as both countries face deepening tensions with the west.

Putin’s two-day state visit to one of his strongest allies comes as his country’s forces are pressing an offensive in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began.

The largely symbolic visit stressed partnership between two countries who both face challenges in their relationship with the U.S. and Europe.

“Both sides want to show that despite what is happening globally, despite the pressure that both sides are facing from the U.S., both sides are not about to turn their backs on each other anytime soon,” said Hoo Tiang Boon, a professor who studies Chinese foreign policy at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

While both leaders said they were seeking an end to the war in Ukraine, they offered no new specifics in their public remarks Thursday afternoon. China has significant influence as a key supporter of Russia its invasion.

The country claims to take a neutral position in the conflict, but it has backed Moscow’s contentions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West, and continues to supply Russia with key components that Moscow needs for its productions of weapons.

China proposed a broadly worded peace plan in 2023, but it was rejected by both Ukraine and the West for failing to call for Russia to leave occupied parts of Ukraine.

“China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this,” Xi said, speaking alongside Putin.

His words were an echo of what China said last year when it first offered a broad plan for peace outlining general principles for ending the war in Ukraine.

Putin said he will inform the Chinese leader in detail about “the situation in Ukraine,” and said “we appreciate the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation.” He added that the two planned to engage in further foreign policy discussions at an informal meeting later Thursday.

After Russia’s newest offensive in Ukraine last week, the 2-year-old war has entered a critical stage, as Ukraine’s depleted military waits for new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery shells from the United States after months of delay.

Before their remarks, the two leaders signed a joint statement on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between their two nations on their 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties, after their initial meeting. Xi said China and Russia will continue to uphold a position of non-alliance and non-confrontation.

Thursday’s meeting was yet another affirmation of the friendly “no limits” relationship they signed in 2022, just before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, Russia has become increasingly economically dependent on China as Western sanctions cut its access to much of the international trading system. China’s increased trade with Russia, totaling $240 billion last year, has helped the country mitigate some of the worst blowback from sanctions.

Moscow has diverted the bulk of its energy exports to China and relying on Chinese companies for importing high-tech components for Russian military industries to circumvent Western sanctions.

“I and President Putin agree, we should actively look for convergence points of the interests of both countries, to develop each’s advantages, and deepen integration of interests, realizing each others’ achievements,” Xi said.

In their meeting, Xi congratulated Putin on his election to a fifth term in office and celebrated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations forged between the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, which was established following a civil war in 1949. Putin faced no credible opposition in the presidential race, and, like Xi, has not laid out any plans for any potential successors.

On the eve of the visit, Putin said in an interview with Chinese media that the Kremlin is prepared to negotiate over the conflict in Ukraine. “We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours,” Putin was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Putin said a Chinese proposal made in 2023, which Ukraine and the West rejected, could “lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take into account Russia’s security concerns and contribute to achieving a long-term and sustainable peace.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said any negotiations must include a restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine.

Putin has blamed the West for the failure of negotiations in the opening weeks of the war and praised China’s peace plan.

Russia-China military ties have also strengthened during the war in Ukraine. They have held a series of joint war games in recent years, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Russian and Chinese ground forces also have deployed to the other country’s territory for joint drills.

China remains a major market for Russian military, while also massively expanding its domestic defensive industries, including building aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Putin has previously said that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defense capability. In October 2019, he mentioned that Russia was helping China to develop an early warning system to spot ballistic missile launches — a system involving ground-based radar and satellites that only Russia and the U.S. possessed.

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Bodeen reported from Taipei. Wu reported from Bangkok. Associated Press researchers Yu Bing and Wanqing Chen in Beijing, and AP writer Jim Heintz in Tallinn, Estonia contributed to this report.

Emily Wang Fujiyama, Christopher Bodeen And Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press

































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