Vladimir Putin will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Moscow, giving the isolated Russian leader a political lift after the International Criminal Court accused him of war crimes in Ukraine.
Xi’s government gave no details of what the Chinese leader hoped to accomplish. Before the assault on Ukraine in February 2022, Xi and Putin said they had a “no-limits friendship. But China has attempted to present itself as impartial. Beijing requested a cease-fire last month. Beijing called for a cease-fire last month, but Washington said that would ratify the Kremlin’s battlefield gains.
The Chinese government said Xi would visit Moscow from Monday to Wednesday but gave no indication when he departed. The Russian government said Xi was due to arrive midday and meet later with Putin.
China looks to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy. And as a partner in opposing what both see as American domination of global affairs.
Some commentators have pointed to a possible parallel between Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory and Beijing’s claim to Taiwan.
Along with India and other countries who claim neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, China has stepped up purchases of Russian oil and gas, helping to top up the Kremlin’s revenue in the face of Western sanctions.
Beijing appears largely to have complied with U.S. warnings not to give military support.
This week’s meeting follows the ICC announcement Friday of charges that Putin is personally responsible for the abductions of thousands of children from Ukraine. Governments that recognize the court’s jurisdiction would be obligated to arrest Putin if he visits.
Putin has yet to comment on the announcement, but the Kremlin rejected the move as “outrageous and unacceptable.”