China's Xi arrives in Russia to meet Putin over Ukraine war
Send a link to a friend
[March 20, 2023]
(Reuters) -Chinese President Xi Jinping flew into Moscow
on Monday where he was expected to press Beijing's role as a potential
peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict while Russian President Vladimir
Putin hoped for support against Western pressure.
Xi will be the first national leader to shake Putin's hand since the
International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on
Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since its
Moscow said the charge was among a number of "clearly hostile displays"
and Beijing said it reflects double standards.
Russia is presenting Xi's trip, his first since securing an
unprecedented third term this month, as evidence that it has a powerful
friend prepared to stand with it against a hostile West that it accuses
of trying to isolate and defeat Moscow.
"We can feel the geopolitical landscape in the outside world undergoing
drastic changes," Putin said in an article in China's People's Daily
published on the Kremlin website, adding that he had high hopes for the
visit from his "good old friend".
For Xi, the visit is a diplomatic tightrope.
China has released a 12-point proposal to solve the Ukraine crisis, but
at the same time strengthened ties with Moscow.
China has repeatedly dismissed Western accusations that it is planning
to arm Russia but says it wants a closer energy partnership after
boosting imports of Russian coal, gas and oil following Putin's all-out
invasion of Ukraine. Western sanctions on Russian energy mean Beijing
has saved billions of dollars.
Xi arrived in Moscow on Monday afternoon and was due to hold "informal"
talks with Putin, followed by dinner.
Formal talks are scheduled for Tuesday.
Xi wrote in an article published in Russia that the two countries
adhered to the concept of "eternal friendship and mutually beneficial
cooperation" and that China's Ukraine peace proposal, released last
month, reflects global views.
"Complex problems do not have simple solutions," Xi wrote in Rossiiskaya
Gazeta, a daily published by the Russian government, according to a
Reuters translation from Russian.
Ukraine and its Western backers say any ceasefire would merely buy Putin
time to reinforce ahead of a planned Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he will only consider
peace settlements after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.
China's proposal contains no concrete proposal on how to end the
year-long war which has killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed
cities and forced millions to flee.
Putin welcomed China's offer to mediate and the Kremlin said he would
provide Xi with detailed "clarifications" of Russia's position, without
elaborating. Putin signed a "no limits" partnership with Xi last year
shortly before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine to end
what he said was a threat to Russia from its moves towards the West.
[to top of second column]
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens
to Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who heads construction
and regional development, as he visits Mariupol, Russian-controlled
Ukraine, in this still image taken from handout video released on
March 19, 2023. Kremlin.ru/Handout via REUTERS
The US notes that China has declined to condemn Russia and given it
an economic lifeline.
Alongside growing oil and coal deliveries to China, Putin said
Russia was helping to build nuclear power reactors there and the two
countries were deepening cooperation in space exploration and new
'THROW IT AWAY'
As Western pressure on Russia grows, Putin's administration has told
officials to stop using Apple iPhones because of concerns the
devices are vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies, a newspaper
reported on Monday.
"Either throw it away or give it to the children," the Kommersant
daily quoted a participant of the meeting as saying.
Justice ministers from around the world will meet in London on
Monday to discuss support for the ICC and several European Union
countries are expected to sign an agreement in Brussels to buy 155
mm artillery shells for Ukraine.
Ukraine has identified the shells' supply as critical, with both
sides firing thousands of rounds every day. The first joint orders
are not expected until the end of May but EU officials hope the plan
will encourage member states to send more of their stockpiles to
In Ukraine, fierce fighting continued in the eastern town of Bakhmut
with each side launching counter offensives. Ukrainian forces have
held out in Bakhmut since last summer in the longest and bloodiest
battle of the war.
Giving its regular morning roundup from the front, Ukraine's
military said defenders in Bakhmut, Lyman, Ivanivske, Bohdanivka and
Hryhorivka - all towns in the Donetsk region - had repelled 69
Russian attacks in the past day.
"Bakhmut remains the epicentre of hostilities," it said.
British intelligence said Ukrainian supply lines both west of
Bakhmut and west of the town of Avdiivka, further south, were under
Ukraine's military said that Russian forces were on the defensive in
the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to the south.
Russia's Wagner mercenary group which is spearheading the assault on
Bakhmut and has suffered heavy losses, plans to recruit some 30,000
new fighters by the middleof May, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said
at the weekend.
In January, the United States assessed that Wagner hadabout 50,000
fighters in Ukraine, including 40,000 convictsPrigozhin had
recruited from Russian prisons with a promise of apardon if they
survived six months.
Ukrainian officials have said that some 30,000 ofWagner's fighters
have deserted or been killed or wounded, afigure that could not be
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Michael Perry and Philippa
Fletcher; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Andrew Cawthorne)
[© 2023 Thomson Reuters. All rights
reserved.]This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.