MOSCOW: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Monday (Mar 20) where he was expected to press Beijing’s role as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict while Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped for support against Western pressure.
Xi’s three-day trip to Russia – his first in nearly four years – has been touted by Beijing as a “visit for peace” as China seeks to play neutral mediator in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said his first state visit to Russia since the Ukraine conflict broke out would give “new momentum” to bilateral ties.
Landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, Xi was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko on a red carpet as a military brass band played the countries’ anthems, Russian state media showed.
“I am confident the visit will be fruitful and give new momentum to the healthy and stable development of Chinese-Russian relations,” Xi told journalists, including from Russian state media, on the runway of a Moscow airport, describing Russia and China as “good neighbours” and “reliable partners”.
“In a world of volatility and transformation, China will continue to work with Russia to safeguard the international system with the UN at its core,” he said.
Xi will be the first national leader to shake Putin’s hand since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since its invasion.
Moscow said the charge was among a number of “clearly hostile displays” and Beijing said it reflects double standards.
Russia is presenting Xi’s trip as evidence that it has a powerful friend prepared to stand with it against a hostile West that it accuses of trying to isolate and defeat Moscow.
“We can feel the geopolitical landscape in the outside world undergoing drastic changes,” Putin said in an article in China’s People’s Daily published on the Kremlin website, adding that he had high hopes for the visit from his “good old friend”.