Vladimir Putin has said Russia and China are fighting “common threats” as he welcomes President Xi Jinping for a three-day trip to Moscow.
Writing in an article in the People’s Daily Newspaper, the Russian president described Mr Xi‘s visit as a “landmark event” that “reaffirms the special nature of the Russia-China partnership”.
The outlet is the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Xi has returned the favour in the Kremlin’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily, claiming a 12-point peace plan drafted by Beijing last month to end the war in Ukraine reflects “the unity of the world community’s views”.
The Chinese leader’s visit on Monday is the first by a foreign leader since an arrest warrant was issued for his Russian counterpart by the International Criminal Court.
Justice ministers from more than 40 nations, including Britain’s Dominic Raab, will be in London later to support the investigation into alleged war crimes – including the abduction of children.
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Mr Putin – fresh off a highly criticised visit to Mariupol, the Ukrainian city decimated by Russian forces last year – wrote that he and Mr Xi “high expectations for the upcoming talks”.
He described his opposite number as a “good old friend” with whom he enjoys the “warmest relationship”, adding that Russia’s relations with China are “consistently growing stronger” and at “the highest level in their history”
“We have reached an unprecedented level of trust in our political dialogue, our strategic cooperation has become truly comprehensive in nature and is standing on the brink of a new era,” he wrote.
News of Mr Xi’s trip was confirmed on Friday by China’s foreign affairs ministry, with Russia saying that the Chinese president was invited by Mr Putin himself.
Mr Putin is scheduled to have a one-to-one meeting with Mr Xi on Monday, according to the Kremlin, before holding further negotiations on Tuesday and giving a statement to the media.
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The Chinese president’s article was more focused on the war in Ukraine, during which Beijing has tried to strike a balance between calling for peace and avoiding criticism of Russia.
Mr Xi’s regime has denied US and NATO accusations that it is considering supplying arms to aid the illegal invasion, which Mr Putin continues to insist in his article was “fuelled by the West”.
He claimed he is “open to the political and diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis” and welcomed Mr Xi’s recent ceasefire proposals, which the Chinese leader promoted in his article.
His country’s peace plan – which includes respecting “the sovereignty of all countries” and ending any sanctions – is “constructive” and promotes a “political settlement”, Mr Xi claimed.
“Complex problems do not have simple solutions,” he said, but added an end to the war would ensure “the stability of global production and supply chains”.
A resolution can be found “if everyone is guided by the concept of common, comprehensive, joint and sustainable security, and continue dialogue and consultations in an equal, prudent and pragmatic manner”, he wrote.
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Economic partnership is ‘priority’
Mr Putin and Mr Xi also stressed the importance of their countries’ economic partnership.
Russia has been broadly cut off from Western markets since the war began in February 2022, but Mr Putin wrote his country’s trade with China is “growing, further strengthening the sovereignty of our relations”.
Mr Xi said Beijing and Moscow wanted “an all-encompassing partnership” that would deliver in a world threatened by “acts of hegemony, despotism, and bullying”.
The two men’s mutual commitment came as Ukraine signed a new digital trade deal with the UK to help support its economy during the war and future rebuild.
It gives Ukrainian businesses access to UK financial services, and allows them to trade more efficiently and cheaply through electronic transactions, e-signatures, and e-contracts.
The deal signed virtually on Monday was agreed in principle in November.