Moscow: Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a state visit to Russia Monday, a trip Beijing has touted as a “visit for peace” as it seeks to play mediator in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Xi’s three-day trip is his first to Russia — a major Chinese ally — for nearly four years, and has been described by Moscow as ushering in a “new era” in relations.
It also comes over a year after Russia’s attack on its European neighbour isolated Moscow on the international stage.
The trip will be closely watched in Western capitals for signs Xi may push for peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv. The Wall Street Journal has reported Xi could also be planning his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the war began.
Xi and Putin will have an “informal” one-on-one meeting and dinner on Monday before negotiations on Tuesday, Putin’s top foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian news agencies.
They will sign an accord “on strengthening (the two countries’) comprehensive partnership and strategic relations entering a new era”, the Kremlin has said, as well as a joint declaration on Russian-Chinese economic cooperation until 2030.
Fresh from buffing its credentials as an international power broker by mediating a surprise diplomatic reconciliation between Middle East rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Beijing is keen to position itself as a peacemaker.
But analysts say Xi is unlikely to orchestrate a similar rapprochement in the Ukraine war given China’s warm ties with its massive northern neighbour, and its relative lack of influence on the Kremlin.