Putin begins China visit underscoring ties amid Ukraine war and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

China's top diplomat Wang Yi met Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday

Layered talks Traditional Russian nesting dolls depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a gift shop in central Moscow | AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Beijing ahead of his meeting with President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. Xi invited 'close friend' Putin to Xi the third Belt and Road Initiative forum, where the leaders of 130 countries will discuss one of China's signature international projects, Al Jazeera reported. Putin was greeted by China's Commerce Minister Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. 

On Monday, China's top diplomat Wang Yi met with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. After meeting Wang, Lavrov said, China's Belt and Road Initiative would help promote cooperation in the Eurasia region. Putin's China visit is the first one outside Russia this year.

In an interview with Chinese state media, Putin praised the massive but loosely linked BRI projects.

“Yes, we see that some people consider it an attempt by the People's Republic of China to put someone under its thumb, but we see otherwise, we just see a desire for cooperation,” he told state broadcaster CCTV, AP reported. 

The two leaders are likely to discuss the war in Israel and the war in Ukraine. In September this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia to discuss the probability of an arms deal. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is slated to visit North Korea. China and North Korea have been sending weapons to Russia and Hamas. 

The West has criticised China's partnership with Russia in the shadow of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But, the West has also said that China has the right to partner with any country it chooses. Putin last visited China in February 2022, during the Winter Olympics.

Trade between Russia and China has soared, especially since Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Both Moscow and Beijing have criticised Israel and have called for a ceasefire. It's the major market for Russian commodities, it's a country that provides its currency and payment system to settle Russia's trade with the outside world with China itself, but also with many other countries, and is also the major source of sophisticated technological imports, including dual-use goods that go into the Russian military machine. 

– With inputs from PTI

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