The leaders pledged to expand space, military and energy cooperation to combat “Washington’s destructive and hostile behavior.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday for the second time in less than a year. To celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations, they agreed to deepen their “strategic partnership”, strengthening military, economic and energy cooperation. The two-day trip is Putin’s first trip abroad since the start of his fifth term in May.

“The China-Russia relationship today is hard-won and both sides need to value and nurture it,” Xi said on Thursday, with Putin adding that they are working to create “a more just and democratic multipolar world order.” .

The two leaders released a 7,000-word joint statement Thursday addressing everything from space collaboration to nuclear energy research and strategies for circumventing Western sanctions. The document also highlighted Russian and Chinese opposition to the United States, accusing Washington of trying to disrupt the region’s “strategic security balance” and pledging to “counter Washington’s destructive and hostile move towards the so-called ‘dual containment’ of our countries.”

The presence of newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov and his predecessor Sergei Shoigu demonstrated the central role that Russia’s war in Ukraine played in Thursday’s talks. Beijing remains one of Moscow’s closest partners as Western nations seek to isolate the Kremlin for their war in Kiev. Since the start of the conflict, China has provided Russia with advanced technology for civilian and military uses and, in February 2023, proposed a 12-point peace plan that would allow Moscow to maintain its territorial gains in Ukraine.

“Russia would struggle to sustain its attack on Ukraine without China’s support,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month, warning Beijing that “if China doesn’t solve this problem, we will.” . The United States and the European Union have criticized Xi’s peace plan.

Despite many topics being discussed on Thursday, it was unclear whether the two leaders debated a proposed gas pipeline that would redirect Russian gas supplies to Europe toward China. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller did not travel with Putin’s delegation this week and instead met with officials in Iran. “Gazprom’s losses demonstrate the extent to which the Kremlin’s decision to turn off the gas tap to Europe in 2022 backfired,” argued FP columnist Agathe Demarais.

Over the two leaders’ reigns, Xi and Putin have met more than 40 times, in person or virtually. In February 2022, just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Xi and Putin declared a “boundless” partnership. And last year, bilateral trade reached a record $240 billion. On Friday, Putin will visit the Chinese city of Harbin, once home to tens of thousands of ethnic Russians.


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