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China’s Xi to visit Russia for ‘peace’

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a state visit to Russia Monday, a trip Beijing has touted as a “visit for peace” as it seeks to play mediator in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Xi’s three-day trip is his first to Russia – a key Chinese ally – in almost four years and has been described by Moscow as the dawn of a “new era” in the relationship.

It also comes over a year after Russia’s attack on its European neighbor isolated Moscow on the international stage.

The trip will be closely watched in western capitals for signs that Xi may be pushing for peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv. The Wall Street Journal has reported Xi may also be planning his first talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the war began.

Xi and Putin will have an “informal” face-to-face meeting and dinner on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s negotiations, Putin’s top foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told Russian news outlets.

They will sign an agreement “on strengthening comprehensive partnership and strategic ties (of the two countries) as we enter a new era,” according to the Kremlin, as well as a joint statement on Russian-Chinese economic cooperation until 2030.

Having buffed its credibility as an international power broker by brokering a surprise diplomatic reconciliation between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East, Beijing is looking to position itself as a peacemaker.

But analysts say Xi is unlikely to orchestrate a similar rapprochement in the Ukraine war, given China’s close ties with its massive northern neighbor and relatively little influence over the Kremlin.

China has presented itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict and has refused to condemn the Russian invasion while blaming the United States and NATO allies for supporting Kiev militarily.

This stance has been criticized by Western nations, who view Beijing as tacit support for Russian aggression and a diplomatic cover for Moscow.

They argue that China’s proposals to end the war are strongly based on grand principles but offer few practical solutions.

For his part, Putin on Sunday hailed China’s willingness to play a “constructive role” in ending the conflict in Ukraine and said he had “high expectations” for his talks with Xi.

In an article for a Chinese newspaper published by the Kremlin, he added that Sino-Russian relations are “at the peak” of history.

– “True Multilateralism” –

The United States has said it would defy Chinese calls for a ceasefire during Xi’s visit, saying such a move would “simply benefit Russia” by allowing it to consolidate its “conquest” of Ukraine and a to prepare another offensive.

China’s foreign ministry has hailed Xi’s trip as “a visit for peace” aimed at “practicing true multilateralism…improving global governance and making contributions to world development and progress.”

In a bid to deepen Russia’s international isolation, the International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crime charges of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

In a defiant move, Putin reportedly visited Mariupol on Sunday, his first trip to the eastern Ukrainian city since it was taken after a long siege early in Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

According to the Kremlin, on Saturday Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter and went on a city tour, during which he traveled by car.

– ‘Old friends’ –

Xi, who broke a longstanding precedent to begin a third term as president this month, has described Putin as an “old friend.”

Beijing and Moscow have also grown closer in recent years as part of a “No Limits” partnership that has served as a diplomatic bulwark against the West.

It emerged last week that the Chinese leader had offered Beijing neutral ground for talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, paving the way for a landmark restoration of ties between the two longtime arch-rivals.

China already has good relations with Riyadh and Tehran, said Abanti Bhattacharya, associate professor of East Asian Studies at Indian University of Delhi, and negotiating a ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict is becoming more difficult.

In contrast, despite its friendship with Moscow, China “does not have close ties with Ukraine (and maintains) a strong anti-NATO perspective,” she told AFP.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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