Putin concedes China has ‘questions and concerns’ over Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine | CNN

Hong Kong

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised China’s “balanced stance” on Thursday Ukraine warAlthough he acknowledged that Beijing has “questions and concerns” about the invasion, it appeared to be a secret admission of their differing views on the protracted military offensive.

Putin made the comments as he met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person for the first time since the attack at a regional summit in Uzbekistan. Russia suffered several major military setbacks in Ukraine. Russian forces have retreated massively, losing more territory in a week than they had captured in five months.

China has so far refused to condemn Russia’s indiscriminate attack on Ukraine Extending financial support to his neighborA boon for Russian business amid Western sanctions is boosting bilateral trade to record levels.

“We highly appreciate the balanced stance of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis. We understand your questions and concerns in this regard,” Putin said in his opening speech at the meeting. “During today’s meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have talked about it before.”

According to Chinese state media, Xi said China was ready to work with Russia to “strongly support each other on issues of their respective core interests” and to increase cooperation in “trade, agriculture and interconnectivity”. Xi also said that both countries should Make more of an effort to take responsibility “In a chaotic, woven world.”

The two authoritarian leaders have emerged as close partners in recent years, fueled by growing confrontations with the West and strong personal bonds.

China has offered clear support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine, while Moscow has backed Beijing and criticized Washington over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Beijing responded to her trip by conducting unprecedented military exercises on the self-governing democratic island, which it claims as its own territory.

In their meeting on Thursday, Putin condemned the United States for being a “provocateur” in the Taiwan Strait and criticized what he claimed was “creating a unipolar world”. Those efforts, he said, “have recently taken on an ugly shape and are completely unacceptable to most states on the planet.”

The two are holding talks on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security-focused grouping that also includes India, Pakistan and four Central Asian nations.

In a symbolic show of strength and unity, the Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint patrols and exercises in the Pacific Ocean hours before their leaders’ meeting, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, Putin emphasized strengthening economic ties between China and Russia, with bilateral trade exceeding $140 billion last year. “I am confident that by the end of the year we will reach a new record level and in the near future, as agreed, we will increase our annual trade turnover to $200 billion or more,” he said.

Putin last met Xi during his visit to the Chinese capital for the Winter Olympics in February this year. It was at that meeting that the two leaders laid out their “no limits” partnership and issued a 5,000-word document outlining their shared opposition to “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 tries to secure a norm-breaking third term at a major political meeting in Beijing – a step towards cementing his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades. increased

China has increasingly allowed inbound and outbound travel since the start of the pandemic and has maintained a strict zero-covid policy.

Xi’s visit to Central Asia is his way back to the world stage and gives him an opportunity to show that despite rising tensions with the West, China still has friends and partners and is ready to reassert its global influence.

Before reaching the summit, Xi visited KazakhstanIt’s where he unveiled his flagship Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, a massive infrastructure project stretching from East Asia to Europe.

In a meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday, Xi said China wants to partner with Kazakhstan to “take the lead in Belt and Road cooperation”.

Xi also told Tokayev that “China will always support Kazakhstan in maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to Chinese state media.

The Chinese leader visited Uzbekistan on Wednesday evening and met Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He also met the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on Thursday.

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