Xi Jinping could visit Vladimir Putin next week, earlier than expected

Kyiv: Chinese President Xi Jinping could wade deeper than before into Ukraine diplomacy as soon as next week, staging both his first trip to Russia and his first talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky since Moscow’s invasion.

Several sources familiar with the plans told Reuters Xi could visit Moscow next week, an earlier-than-expected trip in response to a long-standing invitation from President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow in 2019.Credit:AP

His plans to also hold a video conference with Zelensky were reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing sources, which Reuters was not immediately able to confirm independently.

The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Kremlin said it had nothing to announce yet. Ukraine’s president’s office did not immediately respond.

The sources who told Reuters of the plan for Xi to visit Moscow declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.

“As a rule, announcements of official foreign visits are coordinated synchronously by mutual agreement of the parties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “When there is such readiness, we will let you know.”

A visit by Xi to Russia would be a major event for Putin, who portrays the war in Ukraine as a conflict with the combined might of the West and has frequently spoken of his plans to host Xi in coming months. Russia relies on China to buy oil and gas it can no longer sell in Europe.

But if Xi’s visit coincides with a video meeting with Zelensky, that could be an even bigger coup for the Ukrainians, who want Beijing to remain neutral rather than firm up their support for Moscow. Zelensky has called on Xi to speak to him.

China has declined to ascribe blame for the war while opposing Western sanctions against Russia. It unveiled a proposal in February for a peace plan, met with scepticism in the West but praised in Moscow and cautiously welcomed by Zelensky.

The United States has said repeatedly since last month that it believes China is considering arming Russia, which Beijing denies. Zelensky has said doing so would invite World War III, but also that he believed Beijing was aware of such risks, implying that he doubted it was likely.

China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership in February of 2022, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, and the two sides have repeatedly reaffirmed the strength of their ties in public.

China’s top diplomat visited Moscow in February during the week of the war’s first anniversary, when US President Joe Biden travelled to Kyiv.

Xi’s diplomatic moves come as Australia announced it will begin regularly hosting American nuclear-powered submarines within five years, as part of a two-decade-long endeavour to establish a domestic industry capable of rolling out a new fleet of cutting-edge boats.


Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Most Viewed in World

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article