Putin and Xi discuss Ukraine prospects as they celebrate ‘no limits’ partnership

As Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have continue their meeting in China, the world is watching to see what their self-proclaimed “no-limits” partnership will mean for the future of Ukraine.

Xi and Putin have a longstanding agreement to visit each other’s countries annually, and Xi was welcomed at the Kremlin last year. The two are ostensibly set to focus on trade and cultural exchanges during day two of Putin’s state visit to China, and the Russian leader has used public remarks to emphasise the importance of Russia-China cooperation in jointly developing new technologies.

“Relying on traditions of friendship and cooperation, we can look into the future with confidence,” he said in public remarks at a China-Russia Expo in the northeastern city of Harbin. “The Russian-Chinese partnership helps our countries’ economic growth, ensures energy security, helps develop production and create new jobs.”

Though Putin’s visit is unlikely to yield any concrete proposals or announcements, Xi and Putin are making an effort to flaunt their strong relationship to the West as the US and other powers continue to sanction Russia amid the war in Ukraine – with China likely still supporting the Russian war machine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, attend an informal meeting in Beijing.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Russia has increasingly depended on China as Western sanctions have taken a bite. Trade between the two countries increased to $240 billion last year, as China helped its neighbour ameliorate the worst effects of Western sanctions.

Putin this week thanked Xi for China’s proposals for ending the war, while Xi said China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this.

China offered a broad plan for peace last year that declined to call on Russia to leave occupied parts of Ukraine. It was rejected by both Ukraine and the West.

And while the notion of peacefully resolving the conflict featured frequently in Thursday’s discussions, Russia has opened a new front in the war by launching attacks at its northeastern border area.

The war is at a critical point for Ukraine, which is trying to resupply its forces after facing delays in getting weapons from the US.

European leaders have pressed China to ask Russia to end its invasion, but to little avail. A US intelligence report has alleged China is likely supplying Russia’s forces with materiel including drones and fighter jet parts.

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