Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in Russia next week for a state visit after he was invited by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.
The two-day trip beginning on Monday comes as Beijing offers to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with scepticism in the West given China’s diplomatic support for Russia.
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“During the talks, they will discuss topical issues of further development of comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,” the Kremlin said.
“A number of important bilateral documents will be signed,” it added.
China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership in February 2022, when Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The two sides have since continued to reaffirm the strength of their ties. Trade between the two countries has soared since the invasion, and China is Russia’s biggest buyer of oil, a key source of revenue for Moscow.
But in recent weeks, China has been trying to play mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
On February 24, exactly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, China released a 12-point position paper on the war, in which it called for a ceasefire and talks between the two parties.
Earlier this week, Beijing also offered to mediate between Russia and Ukraine on the Black Sea grain deal, which is due to be extended.
And on Thursday, in a rare phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, China’s foreign minister said Beijing is concerned about the year-old grinding conflict spinning out of control and urged talks on a political solution with Moscow.
Qin Gang told Dmytro Kuleba that China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks”, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
Kuleba later tweeted that he and Qin “discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity”.
“I underscored the importance of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s] Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine,” wrote Kuleba, who spoke the same day with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, on Xi’s visit:
“[This trip is all about] promoting peace between Ukraine and Russia. China’s foreign ministry says that Beijing’s stance during the conflict has been consistent and that all it wants is for the two sides to sit down and talk.
“It released a peace plan to this effect last month outlining this push for dialogue, this push for negotiations.
“Beijing has also criticised the US, and other Western countries for imposing what it says are unilateral sanctions [against Russia] and fuelling the crisis by militarily supporting Ukraine.
“This trip is going to be a major show of public support for Moscow at a time when it is continuing its invasion of Ukraine. This is what Beijing intends to show, that this is advancing a multipolar world as opposed to one that’s just run by the US and other Western countries.
“Beijing also wants to deepen its economic ties with Russia, we’ve seen trade soar between the two countries since the invasion in 2022. It went up by 29 percent to $190bn, and much of that is the buying of cheap oil and gas from Russia, something that Beijing very much needs.
“Beijing is [also] going there to promote itself as a global leader and a mediator. Xi Jinping is capitalising on the recent success of Wang Yi, Beijing’s top diplomat, brokering a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Xi’s very much going to point out to the international community that speaking to both Russia and Ukraine is something that Beijing can do and the US can not.”