Xi Jinping Meets Putin

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, in what is considered a political boost for Putin who is currently facing charges of war crimes in Ukraine by the International Criminal Court. The Chinese government has not disclosed what Xi hopes to achieve through this meeting. China has been trying to portray itself as neutral in the conflict, calling for a cease-fire, while the US argues that this move would legitimize Russia’s battlefield gains.

The meeting between Xi and Putin provides them with an opportunity to showcase their “no-limits friendship” amid strained relations with the US. China is dependent on Russia for its energy needs and sees Russia as a partner in opposing American domination of global affairs.

While some analysts have drawn a parallel between Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory and China’s claim to Taiwan, Beijing’s campaign of diplomatic isolation and military threats have led to a backlash against Chinese companies overseas and growing support for Taiwan in the US House and European parliaments.

The Chinese government has not provided any details about Xi’s objectives for the meeting. The Russian government has stated that Xi is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Monday and hold a meeting with Putin later. China’s relations with its neighbors, Europe, and the US are strained over disputes about technology, security, human rights, and the ruling Communist Party’s treatment of Hong Kong and Muslim minorities.

Joseph Torigian, an expert in Chinese-Russian relations at American University in Washington, has said that the meeting gives Putin and Xi a chance to show that they have “powerful partners” in a time of strained relations with the US. Torigian also suggested that China could signal that it could do more to help Russia and support its war against Ukraine if relations with the US continue to deteriorate.

The meeting between Xi and Putin takes place after the International Criminal Court announced charges against Putin for his involvement in the abductions of thousands of children in Ukraine. Countries that recognize the court’s jurisdiction would be obligated to arrest Putin if he visits their territories. The Kremlin has rejected the move as “outrageous and unacceptable,” and Putin has yet to comment on the announcement.

Xi’s upcoming visit to Russia follows the surprise announcement of a diplomatic thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia after a meeting in Beijing, which is considered a diplomatic coup for the Chinese government. Xi has said that China has “actively promoted peace talks” but did not announce any initiatives. In an article published in the Russian newspaper Russian Gazette, Xi wrote that his visit to Russia would be a “journey of friendship, cooperation, and peace,” and that a “reasonable way to resolve the crisis” in Ukraine can be found if “all parties embrace the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.”

While Beijing is worried about potential Russian losses on the battlefield, it does not want to appear as enabling Russia’s aggression, according to Torigian. He added that China is unlikely to press Putin to end the war as it does not see any benefits in doing so.