Chinese Xi, Russian Putin discuss geopolitics in video call

Russian President Vladimir Putin sits in his office at the Novo-Ogaryovo Residence during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (on the video screen) via a video call.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their second dedicated video call of the year on Wednesday, as the international community grew concerned about tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Putin won Xi’s backing for his efforts to secure binding security guarantees for Russia from the West, a Kremlin official said, according to Reuters.

Russia wants the United States and NATO to ensure that the military alliance does not expand further east or deploy weapons systems in Ukraine and other countries bordering Russia.

Putin also called Xi a “dear friend” and said relations between the two countries had reached “an unprecedented level,” according to a report on the opening remarks of the press agency’s appeal. Russian state TASS.

The two leaders’ video call lasted just over an hour, from 4:07 p.m. to 5:21 p.m. Beijing time, according to Chinese state media. Few other details of the call were available Wednesday evening Beijing time.

Xi and Putin last met at the end of June, also via video link. Earlier this year, the two executives met via video at a ceremony to launch a nuclear reactor project. Putin and Xi also spoke by phone in August after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan as the United States withdrew its troops.

Ahead of the virtual meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two leaders would discuss tensions in Europe and called the two countries “allies”, according to Reuters.

“We are seeing very, very aggressive rhetoric on the NATO and US side, and that requires a discussion between us and the Chinese,” the spokesperson said, according to the Reuters report.

Members of NATO – a powerful military alliance – pledged in June to face threats from China in addition to Russia.

In a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden last week, Putin said Washington should not allow Ukraine to join NATO in exchange for assurances that Russian troops would not carry out an attack.

Biden said Washington would not accept such a request.

An attack on a NATO member is considered an attack on all member countries. Ukraine has wanted to join the alliance since 2002, but Russia opposed it on the grounds that such a move would constitute a direct threat to its borders.

Beijing’s position on Ukraine is less clear. Xi spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

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G-7 leaders issued a statement on Sunday condemning “Russia’s military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine.” The United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom are part of the bloc of major economies.

China is not part of the G-7. The country shares a long border with Russia, and much of their bilateral relations have focused on trade, particularly in energy. This year, China bought significant amounts of coal and other fuels from its northern neighbor to help alleviate a coal shortage.

Xi said on Wednesday he was looking forward to seeing Putin at the Beijing Olympics and opening a new chapter in Sino-Russian relations after Covid, according to Chinese state media.

The Games are scheduled to begin in early February and Biden has announced a diplomatic boycott, although athletes can still attend.

– CNBC Abigail Ng contributed to this report.

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