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Putin says China's Ukraine proposal could be basis for peace

March 21, 2023

The second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow saw the two leaders continue high-level talks. Xi has also invited Putin to visit Beijing this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony before talks
Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited his Russian counterpart to visit BeijingImage: Sputnik/Mikhail Tereshchenko/Pool via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin met again with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Tuesday during the latter's visit to Moscow.

Xi was welcomed for talks with pomp and affair at the Grand Kremlin Palace as Russian soldiers dressed in 19th-century-style parade uniforms stood by.

The importance of the Chinese premier's visit was highlighted by the pageantry and displays of excess from Russia's tsarist imperial past.

Putin, who has until now been finding himself increasingly isolated on the world stage in light of the war in Ukraine, said that the two leaders had signed major agreements expanding their strategic cooperation as well as increasing Russian energy supplies to China.

"The two statements we signed fully reflect the special nature of Russian-Chinese relations, which are a model of true partnership and strategic interaction," Putin said.

Putin also said that China's proposals for peace in Ukraine could serve as a basis for a political settlement "once the West and Kyiv are ready for it."

"We find that many of the positions in the peace plan put forward by China agree with Russian approaches," he added. 

What else did the two leaders discuss?

Putin hailed the talks as "successful and constructive" after they concluded. Xi described the talks as "open and friendly." 

Earlier the two leaders had made remarks that were broadcast on Russian state TV.

The Russian president touted his country's ability to feed China's energy demands. "Russian business is able to meet China's growing demand for energy carriers," Putin said, adding that a new pipeline connecting the two was in the works that could in the future transport up to 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

Trade with China is an important replacement for Russia after losing lucrative deals with EU countries. China will get a discount on its energy purchases.

For his part, the Chinese leader talked about boosting working ties between the two neighbors. "I propose strengthening our coordination and cooperation," Xi said. "The early harvest of [our] cooperation can be seen, and further cooperation is being advanced," he added.

'No winners' in nuclear war

Putin and Xi signed a joint declaration following talks on Tuesday in which they said that nuclear war can "never" be allowed to happen.

"There can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it must never be unleashed," the statement said.

Putin and Xi also pledged to bolster "strategic cooperation" in energy and high-tech industries.

They said that Beijing and Moscow would use their currencies in mutual trade in order to reduce dependence on the West.

The statement said that the two countries would conduct more joint sea and air patrols.

"I am sure that Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects," Putin said following the talks.

Xi extends invite to Putin

The Chinese president, who is one of only a few world leaders to visit Moscow since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, offered a reciprocated invitation to Putin to visit Beijing at a later point in the year.

"I invite you to visit China as soon as possible," Xi said, while also extending the invite to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

The invite comes shortly after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over the alleged deportation of children from Ukraine, but neither Russia nor China — nor even the US — recognizes the court's jurisdiction, meaning that a visit to Beijing would not put Putin in any danger.

Western backers of Ukraine have expressed concern that the increasing relations between Moscow and Beijing may be a sign that China is planning on sending weapons to Russia which could drag out the war in Ukraine.

China has not condemned the invasion, nor has it risked the ire of western states by helping Russia circumvent sanctions.

ab,sdi/nm (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)