China’s Xi to visit Putin in Russia next week – POLITICO

Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a three-day visit to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, Beijing and Moscow announced Friday, with “strategic cooperation” on the agenda.

“On March 20-22, 2023, at the invitation of Vladimir Putin, president of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia,” the Kremlin’s press service said in a statement.

“A number of important bilateral documents will be signed,” the statement reads.

Neither country confirmed previous reports from the Wall Street Journal that Xi would use the opportunity to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — in what would be the first communication between the two leaders since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February.

While China was initially committed to a “no-limit partnership” passed with Moscow days before the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Beijing has since sought to position itself as a peace broker, introducing a 12-point plan for peace.

Yet, Beijing’s attempts have drawn criticism from Western leaders. China, they said, is anything but neutral in the war, and thus not a good fit to be playing the arbiter.

China has been accused by the U.S. of delivering non-lethal “support” to Russia — and, according to exclusive customs data obtained by POLITICO, Chinese companies shipped more than 1,000 assault rifles, drone parts and body armor to Russian entities between June and December of last year.

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