By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Russia on Monday as he kicked off a three-day visit to Moscow as he attempts to position himself as an impartial broker of peace on the international stage.
Xi arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at around 1 p.m., MSK, where he was greeted at the gangway by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyskenko, other senior officials and a military orchestra that played the national anthems of both China and Russia during a welcoming ceremony.
“China and Russia are friendly neighbors connected by shared mountains and rivers,” Xi said.
Xi then met Putin in the Kremlin with a statement from Beijing’s foreign ministry stating that after a group photo the world leaders held an “in-depth and frank exchange on Sino-Russian issues of common concern.”
The pair stressed a further deepening of their countries’ ties, with Xi promoting his 12-point peace plan announced last month for Ukraine, which Putin had praised in a statement on Sunday, calling it a “well-balanced stance on the events in Ukraine.”
“We believe that the more difficult it is, the more space it is to leave room for peace; the more conflicting it is, the more we can’t give up dialogue efforts,” Xi said Monday, according his foreign ministry. “China is willing to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine Issue.”
China’s peace plan includes “respecting the sovereignty of all countries,” restarting peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, ending hostilities and ending wartime sanctions against Russia. U.S. officials have voiced skepticism over the plan.
Ahead of his arrival in Moscow, Xi penned a lengthy statement published Monday framing the visit as “a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace.”
“I look forward to working with President Putin to jointly adopt a new vision, a new blueprint and new measures for the growth of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the years to come,” Xi said.
China has attempted to position itself as having the political power to broker peace to end the year-old war in Ukraine. Most recently, China secured an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Putin also attempted to cast Russia as being open to finding a political and diplomatic solution to its war, which he blamed democratic nations for enflaming.
The Russian leader has repeatedly accused NATO of deepening the conflict and being a cause of the war, and tried Monday to present the Russia-China alliance as “literally and figuratively building bridges” and the defensive military bloc as jeopardizing nuclear security and “striving for a global reach of activities and seeking to penetrate the Asia-Pacific.”
The meeting, which is to be closely watched by democratic nations, was announced as relations between the West and China continue to deteriorate and Putin’s war in Ukraine further isolates him from the international community — an isolation that has pushed him closer to Beijing.
Putin’s growing dependency on Beijing has also raised worries in Washington over the possibility that China may begin to supply it with weaponry.