Saturday, May 18, 2024

Vladimir Putin thanks Xi Jinping for efforts to resolve Ukraine conflict

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Vladimir Putin has thanked Xi Jinping for China’s initiatives to resolve the Ukraine conflict at a Beijing summit where the Chinese leader said he hopes Europe will return to peace and stability soon.

China last year offered a broad plan for peace outlining general principles for ending the war in Ukraine.

“China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this,” Mr Xi said, speaking alongside Mr Putin.

The Russian leader said he will inform the Chinese leader in detail about “the situation in Ukraine” and said “we are grateful for the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation”.

It continues to supply Russia with key components that Moscow needs for its productions of weapons, and its purchase of Russian oil and gas has helped boost the Russian economy.

Before their remarks, the two leaders signed a joint statement on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between their two nations. Mr Xi said China and Russia will continue to uphold a position of non-alliance and non-confrontation.

Mr Putin was greeted by Mr Xi with full military honours at the Great Hall of the People, the massive seat of the ceremonial legislature sitting next to Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital Beijing.

In their following meeting, Mr Xi congratulated Mr Putin on his election to a fifth term in office and celebrated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations forged between the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China after it swept to power in a civil war in 1949.

Mr Putin faced no credible opposition in the presidential race and, like Mr Xi, has not laid out any plans for any potential successors.

Mr Xi said the two countries were furthering their relationship as “good neighbours, good friends, good partners”, according to state broadcaster CCTV, echoing their commitment to the “no limits” relationship they signed in 2022, just before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The leaders review the honour guard of Chinese troops (Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Mr Putin as saying that Russia-China relations are “not directed against anyone. Our cooperation in world affairs today is one of the main stabilising factors in the international arena”.

Mr Putin complimented Mr Xi on his signature “One Belt One Road” initiative” that seeks to build roads, ports, power plants and other infrastructure connecting China to its neighbours and soaking up Chinese industrial output at a time of declining demand at home.

On the eve of the visit, Mr Putin said in an interview with Chinese media that the Kremlin is prepared to negotiate over the conflict in Ukraine.

“We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours,” Mr Putin was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The Russian leader’s two-day trip comes as his country’s forces have pressed an offensive in north-eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region that began last week in the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began, forcing almost 8,000 people to flee their homes.

Along with Moscow’s efforts to build on its gains in the nearby Donetsk region, the two-year-old war has entered a critical stage for Ukraine’s depleted military that is awaiting new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery shells from the United States.

“We have never refused to negotiate,” Mr Putin was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

“We are seeking a comprehensive, sustainable and just settlement of this conflict through peaceful means. We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said any negotiations must include a restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

China claims to take a neutral position in the conflict, but has backed Moscow’s contentions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West, despite Mr Putin’s public avowals of his desire to restore Russia’s century-old borders as the reason for his assault.

Russia China Things to Know
Mr Putin began a fifth term in office this month (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP, Pool, File)

“Beijing proposes practicable and constructive steps to achieve peace by refraining from pursuing vested interests and constant escalation of tensions, minimising the negative impact of the conflict on the global economy,” he had said.

Mr Putin said a Chinese proposal in 2023, which Ukraine and the West rejected, could “lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take into account Russia’s security concerns and contribute to achieving a long-term and sustainable peace”.

The Kremlin said in a statement that during their talks this week, Mr Putin and Mr Xi will “have a detailed discussion on the entire range of issues related to the comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation and determine the new directions for further development of cooperation between Russia and China and also have a detailed exchange of opinions on the most acute international and regional issues”.

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