Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Monday, where he is expected to discuss Beijing’s potential role as a mediator in the Ukraine conflict, while Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to gain support against Western pressure. This is Xi’s first visit since securing a third term as president this month, and he is walking a diplomatic tightrope.
China has released a 12-point proposal to solve the Ukraine crisis, but at the same time, it has strengthened its ties with Moscow. Beijing has repeatedly dismissed Western accusations that it is planning to arm Russia, but it says it wants a closer energy partnership. Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, China has boosted imports of Russian coal, gas, and oil, saving billions of dollars due to Western sanctions on Russian energy.
Moscow 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. Putin said in an article in China’s People’s Daily published on the Kremlin website that he had high hopes for the visit from his “good old friend.”
Xi arrived in Moscow on Monday afternoon and was scheduled to hold “informal” talks with Putin, followed by dinner. Formal talks were scheduled for Tuesday. Xi wrote in an article published in Russia that the two countries adhered to the concept of “eternal friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation” and that China’s Ukraine peace proposal, released last month, reflects global views. “Complex problems do not have simple solutions,” Xi wrote in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a daily published by the Russian government.
However, Ukraine and its Western backers say any ceasefire would merely buy Putin time to reinforce ahead of a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he will only consider peace settlements after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.