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China’s Xi Jinping to visit Putin in Moscow next week to assume larger global role

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands. (Kremlin)
March 17, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to spend three days in Russia visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, a diplomatic opportunity for the isolated Russian leader as China moves to have a stronger hand in global affairs.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders will meet one-on-one during an informal dinner on Monday, and officials from both countries will have broader talks Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The trip is scheduled to end Wednesday.

A foreign policy adviser to Putin, Yuri Uskahov, said Xi and Putin will likely discuss Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

“I’m sure that our leader and the Chinese leader will exchange their assessments of the situation in the context of the development of the conflict in Ukraine,” Ushakov said, adding, “We shall see what ideas will emerge after that.”

The trip could represent a challenge to the U.S., Ukraine’s largest material supporter in the war, and is set to come a month after President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

China proposed a set of ceasefire and peace talk conditions for the conflict in February, but little progress on that front has been made public since then. China has not condemned Russia for the invasion, but in a rare move this week, the Chinese foreign minister called his Ukrainian counterpart to urge a peaceful end to the war, as reported by AP.

READ MORE: China cease-fire proposal for Ukraine falls flat with US, allies

The high-level meeting comes on the heels of China playing mediator to forge diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, bitter rivals that have for decades waged what has been called a cold war in the Middle East.

After brokering that deal earlier in March, Xi said during a speech that China should “actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system,” as well as promote “global security initiatives,” as reported by AP.

The leaders’ Ukraine talks are also set to come a week after the first physical contact between the U.S. and Russian militaries since the war began. Russian fighter jets on Tuesday harassed and dumped fuel on a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over international waters south of Ukraine, at one point striking the drone’s propeller and causing U.S. forces to down it in the Black Sea.