China’s Xi Jinping meets Russia’s Vladimir Putin as tensions grow with west

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping pose for a photograph before their talks in Beijing, China. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/Tass

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday arrived in Beijing, where he is expected to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics and hold a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss closer cooperation amid increasing tensions with the United States.

Russia and China are to discuss closer gas and financial ties during Putin’s trip, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, and a long-held idea for a new gas pipeline to China is being examined.

A report from Chinese state television CCTV on Friday afternoon said that Putin had arrived in the Chinese capital, noting that he had, like China, expressed opposition to the “politicization” of the Games.

The Games’ opening ceremony will be held later on Friday.

The United States and some of its allies have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games in protest at China’s human rights record. China denies any abuses.

Putin and Xi were expected to have lunch together on Friday, and could sign more than 15 agreements, according to the Kremlin, with new deals being prepared in relation to natural gas.

The Olympics, already transformed by the coronavirus pandemic and to be held within a strictly closed loop, have also been overshadowed by the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The countries coordinated their positions on Ukraine during a meeting between the two foreign ministers, Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov, in Beijing on Thursday, according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry. 

Before Lavrov, Beijing had not received foreign political guests for almost two years as it tried to keep the country’s capital free of COVID-19.

Thousands of Russian troops have massed near the border of Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion, which Moscow denies planning. Russia has asked NATO to bar Ukraine from joining and to pull out of eastern Europe.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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