Chinese leader Xi Jinping touched down in Moscow Monday and was welcomed with a red carpet and a performance of the two countries’ anthems. The visit is seen as strengthening ties between China and Russia, as well as giving “new momentum” to their relationship, especially amid the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival, Xi said he was “very glad” to be the land of this “close neighbor” of his. He also expressed optimism that his visit would be a fruitful one.
Though the official purpose of his trip is for peace talks, certain political figures see it as Beijing’s way of showing support for Russia since its invasion of Ukraine over a year ago. China has also called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, though the U.S. has opposed this; voicing concerns over what it sees as a potentially one-sided deal in favor of Russia.
Xi and Putin are set to meet informally on Monday ahead of a formal dinner, followed by talks concerning peace negotiations Tuesday morning. The world will be watching closely as the two leaders attempt to come to some sort of agreement about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
Chinese officials have reportedly been making diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine. On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang held a phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also reported to have reached out to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although details on that conversation remain unclear.
Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby expressed concerns over a possible ceasefire in Ukraine, warning that it could result in Russia strengthening their military presence in the region. “While that sounds perfectly reasonable and it sounds like a good thing, a ceasefire right now would basically ratify Russia’s conquest,” said Kirby at a press briefing last week. “Russia would basically be free to use that ceasefire to further entrench its positions in Ukraine, to rebuild their forces, refit them, re-man them, retrain them so that they can then restart attacks at a time of their choosing.”