Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to meet virtually with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (Dec. 15), Beijing’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Monday (Dec. 13). The encounter will be the second virtual discussion between the two leaders this year.
It comes shortly after Putin had a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden last week as rising tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border have caught international attention.
Putin was warned of “strong economic and other measures” by the US and European allies if military tensions with Ukraine escalated while the Russian leader said Washington should not allow Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in return for assurances that Russian troops would not carry out an attack.
It also comes after Putin held a meeting with and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.
“The two heads of state will give full review of China-Russia relations and cooperation in various fields this year,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told at a daily briefing on Monday.
Wang added the leaders will also “make top-level designs for the development of bilateral relations next year.”
“We expect and are certain that this video call will certainly promote steady growth of mutual trust between our countries and give an impetus to the further development of bilateral relations of strategic cooperation and practical interaction, as well as lend stability and positive energy to the chaotic international situation,” he said.
Last month, Putin accused some Western countries of trying to “drive a wedge” in Russia and China’s relations. Beijing backed the Russian leaders words and added that “China and Russia will constantly expand the scope of bilateral cooperation, making it increasingly more intensive.”
On Friday (Dec. 10), Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said China appreciates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent positive comments on China-Russia relations and emphasized the strength and importance of the nations’ ties.
The meeting has geopolitical significance for the two countries and the whole world. Will it offer de-escalation of international tensions or not?
All of the deals that are ready to be signed are likely to be postponed until February 2022, Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, told The South China Morning Post, referring to when Putin and Xi would meet in person on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics.
Russia-China alliance against “Western pressure”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s video call lasted a little over an hour.
At the beginning of the virtual summit, Putin referred to Xi Jinping as his “dear friend”. The Chinese leader responded with the same gesture and a broad smile, according to a TASS report.
Putin described the relations between Moscow and Beijing as “a sample of genuine interstate cooperation in the 21st century.
According to the Russian head of state, a new model of interaction has been shaped between two countries “based among other things on such principles, specifically, as non-interference in domestic affairs and respect for one another’s interests, determination to turn the shared border into a belt of everlasting peace and good neighborliness.”
Putin and Xi also discussed the ongoing situation on the Ukrainian border.
Ahead of the virtual meeting, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders would discuss tensions in Europe and described the two countries as “allies,” according to Reuters. “We see very, very aggressive rhetoric on the NATO and U.S. side, and this requires discussion between us and the Chinese,” the spokesperson said, according to the Reuters report.
Xi said Wednesday that he looked forward to meeting with Putin in person at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and to start a new chapter in China-Russia relations post-Covid, according to Chinese state media. The Games are set to start in early February 2022 and several countries have announced their diplomatic boycott of the event.
China and Russia have forged closer economic, military and geopolitical co-operation under Xi and Putin – a co-operation. Both Russia and China often accuse the West of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and disrespecting their interests.
With reporting by TASS, South China Morning Post, AP, Reuters