Russian President Vladimir Putin to Meet with Xi Jinping in China to Strengthen Relations and Seek Support for Ukraine Conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to arrive in China next week to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping and strengthen relations with their strategic partnership. Experts believe this visit signifies Putin’s increasing dependence on Beijing.

The city of Beijing will host representatives from 130 countries, including President Putin, on October 17 and 18 for the New Silk Roads Forum, which commemorates the ten-year anniversary of the launch of the massive infrastructure project known as “Belt and Road.” This initiative aims to enhance trade links between Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond by constructing ports, railways, airports, and industrial zones.

Although the forum holds great significance, all attention will be on Vladimir Putin, whose strategic reliance on China has grown since his involvement in the Ukraine conflict and subsequent international isolation. Notably, China refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Trade between the two countries reached record levels in 2022, amounting to approximately $190 million, as confirmed by Chinese customs. Beijing and Moscow have committed to raising this figure to $200 million in 2023.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia in March, Putin expressed his appreciation for the “unlimited possibilities and prospects” offered by Russian-Chinese cooperation in countering the Western bloc. In May, Xi Jinping assured Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin of his “steadfast support” concerning their “core interests” and called for further strengthening of economic cooperation with Moscow.

Experts suggest that Putin’s visit to Beijing aims to fulfill those promises and seek additional support for his actions in Ukraine. Björn Alexander Dubin, an expert on Sino-Russian relations at Jilin University in China, indicates that this may include the provision of “lethal military aid.” Up until now, China has refrained from supplying such weaponry to Moscow, positioning itself as a neutral party in the conflict while extending vital diplomatic and financial assistance to Russia.

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