This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed the “unprecedented level” of ties with China as leaders from the two countries began three days of meetings to shore up cooperation amid rising tensions with the United States.
Putin told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at a meeting on June 5 in Moscow that the visit was a “key event” in relations between the two neighbors, while Xi, who was met with full state honors at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, noted the relationship had withstood “trials and tribulations” over the years and were now better than ever.
Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s region of Crimea led to a serious rift between Moscow and its Western partners and its subsequent turn toward its neighbor to the east.
China and Russia in recent years have often voted in unison as permanent members of the UN Security Council, aligning their positions in regard to major international crises.
After meeting with Xi, Putin said that the two leaders had discussed “pressing global issues,” according to the TASS news agency.
“We confirmed that Russia’s and China’s stances on the key global issues are similar or coincide,” Putin said.
Xi said that his visit would “serve as an incentive for the development of Chinese-Russian relations, comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction in a new era,” according to Russian media.
“We’ve managed to take our relationship to the highest level in our history,” Xi said. “We will continue to improve our ties and we are ready to go hand in hand with you.”
Putin’s foreign-policy aide, Yury Ushakov, has said that Xi and Putin would sign a new declaration on their “global partnership and strategic cooperation, which are entering a new era.”
The partnership is yielding growing bilateral trade, which has increased by 25 percent last year to hit $108 billion, Ushakov said, calling China “Russia’s most important economic partner.”
Ushakov said that “the positions of Russia and China are very close or coincide completely on most international issues,” including the North Korean nuclear program, the crisis in Venezuela, and Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Xi is set to attend a ceremony later on June 5 marking the launch of a Chinese car factory. He will also visit Moscow’s zoo to hand over two pandas, and attend a gala concert with Putin at the Bolshoi Theater.
The two leaders will then head to St Petersburg to attend an economic forum hosted by Putin on June 6-7.