Top China diplomat Wang Yi to meet Putin, expects new agreements during Moscow visit


MOSCOW – China’s top diplomat will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, the Kremlin said, days after the United States warned Beijing against providing material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chinese weapons supplies to Russia would risk a potential escalation of the Ukraine war into a confrontation between Russia and China on the one side and Ukraine and the US-led Nato military alliance on the other.

“Putin will receive Wang Yi,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Mr Wang earlier met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying that he looked forward to clinching new agreements during his visit to Moscow.

“No matter how the international situation changes, China has been and remains committed, together with Russia, to make efforts to preserve the positive trend in the development of relations between major powers,” he said.

Mr Wang said he would work to “strengthen and deepen” relations between Moscow and Beijing. He provided no specific details on what agreements might be reached during his visit.

When Mr Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met face to face just before Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022, the two leaders sealed a strategic “no limits” partnership between China and Russia that triggered anxiety in the West.

Asked about a Wall Street Journal report that Mr Xi was preparing to visit Moscow, the Kremlin said that when the timing became clearer, an announcement would be made.

In a meeting on Tuesday with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Mr Wang said relations between China and Russia are “solid as rock and will stand the trials of the changing international situation”.

China sought to “promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas” as the two nations defend national interests, Mr Wang said in comments broadcast on Russian state television. 

Mr Wang’s visit to Moscow roughly a year after Mr Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine shows China has little intention of abandoning its close diplomatic partner despite Beijing’s efforts to limit the damage caused by the war.

‘Honest dialogue’

“The leaders of Russia and China maintain an honest dialogue,” Mr Peskov said. “In general, we value and maintain our relations of advanced strategic partnership, which imply regular communication between the heads of state.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned Mr Wang of consequences should China provide material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying in an interview after the two men met that Washington was concerned by Beijing considering supplying weapons to Moscow.

Beijing has denied providing military support to Moscow.

Asked about the issue of Chinese military assistance, Mr Peskov said: “I don’t think I can give a more colourful answer on this topic than the Chinese representatives have already done.

“They have already answered this question, they have, in fact, strongly denied it. There is nothing to add here.”

After Mr Blinken’s claims, for which he did not supply evidence, China said the United States was in no position to make demands.

Mr Xi has stood by Mr Putin during the conflict in Ukraine, resisting Western pressure to isolate Moscow. Chinese-Russian trade has soared since the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia has sold Asian powers including China greater volumes of oil. REUTERS


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