Russian President Vladimir Putin begins state visit to Beijing

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Putin

16th May 2024 – (Beijing) Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing at around 4am Thursday morning to embark on a two-day state visit to China, following an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping. While the visit is not expected to result in concrete agreements, it will serve as a significant demonstration of support from China, Putin’s most influential political ally, as he commences his new presidential term.

The highly anticipated trip is set to emphasize the “no limits” partnership between Putin and Xi, highlighting their defiance against pressure from the United States concerning Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Putin’s visit, stating that he and Xi will exchange views on bilateral relations as well as “international and regional issues of common concern.”

While diplomats and analysts anticipate Putin’s efforts to seek further support from China for Russia’s war economy, including machinery, chemicals, and discounted oil and gas purchases, the visit is primarily symbolic, underscoring a shared worldview centered around countering the U.S.-led global order.

“China is Russia’s strategic partner – this is the path chosen by the president of Russia and the leader of China – and nothing is going to change that no matter what the West tries to say or do,” stated an anonymous Russian official.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency published on Wednesday, Putin expressed support for China’s proposed peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis, noting that Beijing understood the underlying factors. However, despite the “no limits” relationship declared by Putin and Xi in Beijing just days prior to the invasion in February 2022, China has refrained from providing direct military assistance to Russia.

Although initial discussions within the U.S. contemplated sanctioning Chinese banks, officials last month confirmed that such plans were not currently in place. The extent to which China can assist Russia without triggering U.S. action will be a closely monitored aspect of Putin’s visit, according to Alexander Neill, a defense analyst based in Singapore.

The meeting between Xi and Putin itself carries significant weight, as it signifies China’s support for Russia, the only major country that has not isolated Moscow, according to James Char, a security scholar at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Char further explained that China requires Russia’s support to challenge the U.S.-led global order and secure geopolitical supremacy.