Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 19, in Moscow, the Kremlin said, underlining Russia’s increased effort to establish closer ties with Beijing in the face of souring relations with the West. This is the first high profile interaction he shall be having after his supposed ‘disappearance’ (he had not been seen in public since March 5th), which since his postponement of his Kazakhstan visit, has been widely speculated in the media.
Mr. Putin shall meet Mr. Li Zhanshu, head of the General Office of the Communist Party in China and discuss several strategic issues. Russia has been facing sanctions imposed by the USA and European Union States over its role in Ukraine separatist conflict. Russia has used this opportunity to move closer to China, as shown by the 400 billion USD gas deal signed only last year which underlines the commitment for closer long term ties. Apart from energy, they also collaborate internationally on the diplomatic front, voting against interventionist stances of USA in the UNSC, as is the case of Syria. They also show tacit support, or use the ‘non interventionist’ card to remain non committal on each other’s territorial disputes.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the Chinese president had confirmed he would visit Moscow on May 9 to join in a commemoration of the 70the anniversary of the end of the World War II, for which prominent leaders from Asia, the former Soviet Republics and Latin America shall be present. China is yet to confirm Mr. Xi’s visit. Previously, Mr. Xi chose Moscow for his first foreign visit as China’s top leader in 2013, showing the importance Russia has in China’s foreign policy orientation. He even attended the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony last year on Mr. Putin’s invitation.
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