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China's leader Xi Jinping will meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on Feb. 4, 2022
Alexei Druzhinn
Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on Feb. 4, 2022

MOSCOW — Chinese President Xi Jinping will head to Moscow for a three-day state visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week in which talks are expected to focus heavily on the war in Ukraine.

The announcement of the state visit — long anticipated in press reports — was made simultaneously in Moscow and Beijing on Friday.

A Kremlin statement stressed the personal nature of the visit — announcing Xi would arrive "at the invitation" of the Russian leader to discuss "issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China."

The spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the two leaders are expected to appear before reporters on Tuesday. Neither the Kremlin statement nor Peskov made any mention of the war in Ukraine.

According to the Kremlin's spokesperson, talks get underway Monday afternoon with the bulk of discussions to follow on Tuesday. Putin has eagerly sought China's backing as relations with the West have collapsed over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Xi's state visit — his first since being re-elected to a third term in office — carries deep symbolism in a relationship that both countries last year famously declared has "no limits."

Yet China has sought to project itself as neutral in the Ukraine conflict — refusing to condemn Russia's actions while stopping short of providing military aid. Last month, Beijing unveiled a position paper on the Ukraine war; the proposal was dismissed in Washington.

In announcing Xi's visit, Beijing said the Chinese leader will bring "an objective and fair position" committed to "promoting peace and advancing negotiations" for peace talks. Unclear is how that squares with the Kremlin's own insistence its objectives in Ukraine can only be achieved by military means.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.