Putin made the comments when meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person for the first time since the invasion at a regional summit in Uzbekistan, days after Russia suffered a series of major military setbacks in Ukraine. . The Russian troops are retreating en masse, having lost more territory in a week than they have captured in five months.
China has so far refused to outright condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while stepping up economic aid to its neighbour, boosting bilateral trade to record levels, a boon for Russian businesses amid Western sanctions.
“We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis. We understand your questions and concerns in this regard,” Putin said in an opening speech at the meeting. “During today’s meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have already spoken about it before.
According to Chinese state media, Xi said China stands ready to work with Russia to “support each other on issues concerning their respective core interests”.
The two authoritarian leaders have become close partners in recent years, propelled by growing conflict with the West and a strong personal bond.
China has offered tacit support to Russia on Ukraine, while Moscow has backed Beijing and criticized Washington over US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Beijing has responded to its trip with unprecedented military exercises around the self-governing democratic island, which it claims as its own territory.
At their Thursday meeting, Putin also condemned the United States for what he called “provocations” in the Taiwan Strait, and criticized what he called attempts to “create a unipolar world.” . These attempts, he said, have “recently taken an ugly form and are absolutely unacceptable to most states on the planet.”
The pair are holding talks on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security-focused regional grouping that also includes India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries.
In a symbolic show of strength and unity, the Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint patrols and exercises in the Pacific Ocean just hours before their leaders’ meeting, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The meeting comes at a potentially important time in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as Russian troops are retreating en masse, having lost more territory in a week than they captured in five months.
China has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while stepping up economic aid to its neighbour, boosting bilateral trade to record levels, a boon for Russian businesses amid sanctions Western.
In a statement released by the Kremlin on Thursday, Putin said: “The foreign policy tandem of Moscow and Beijing plays a key role in ensuring global and regional stability. We jointly advocate the formation of a just, democratic and multipolar world order based on international rules and the central role of the UN.
Putin is one of the few world leaders Xi has met in person since the start of 2020. The Russian leader traveled to Beijing for his Winter Olympics in February this year and was seen as the world leader the most prominent to join the event. A number of Western countries have declared a diplomatic boycott, citing China’s human rights record.
It was during this meeting that the two leaders defined their “unlimited partnership” and published a 5,000-word document expressing their joint opposition to “a further enlargement of NATO”.
For Xi, meanwhile, Thursday’s meeting comes as part of his first trip outside China’s borders in more than two years, and just weeks before he seeks a groundbreaking third term in office. a major political meeting in Beijing – a move that will cement his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades.
China has become increasingly inward-looking since the start of the pandemic. Xi’s trip to Central Asia is a return to the world stage and an opportunity for him to show that despite growing tensions with the West, China still has friends and partners and is ready to reassert its global influence.
On his first stop, Xi traveled to Kazakhstan, where he unveiled his flagship Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, a massive infrastructure project that stretches from East Asia to Europe.
During a meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday, Xi said China wants to partner with Kazakhstan to “remain the pioneers of Belt and Road cooperation.”
Xi also told Tokayev that “China will always support Kazakhstan in maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese state media reported.
The Chinese leader visited Uzbekistan on Wednesday evening and met with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He also met the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on Thursday.