BEIJING, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in a widely viewed visit aimed at demonstrating trust and “boundless” partnership between the two countries despite the war in Ukraine. raged.
Video footage showed Putin and his entourage arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday morning, his second foreign trip since the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued his arrest warrant in March.
He was received by Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao.
It was the Kremlin leader’s first official trip outside the former Soviet Union this year, after visiting the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan earlier this month.
Accusing Putin of illegally deporting children from Ukraine, the ICC requires the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he ever steps foot on their territory. Neither Kyrgyzstan nor China are members of the ICC, which was established to investigate war crimes.
Xi last saw his “dear friend” in Moscow days after the warrant was issued. At the time, Xi invited Putin to attend the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, an international cooperation forum supported by the Chinese leader.
Russian media reported that Putin will attend the forum’s official opening reception hosted by Xi and speak with the leaders of Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia and Laos on Tuesday.
As the forum’s chief guest, Putin will speak on Wednesday after Xi, who will meet the Chinese president later that day for bilateral talks.
Beijing has dismissed Western criticism of its partnership with Moscow, which has shown no sign of an end to the war in Ukraine, insisting their ties do not violate international norms and that China has the right to cooperate with any country it chooses.
Putin last visited China for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022, when Russia and China announced a “borderless” partnership just days before the Russian president sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine.
This will be Putin’s third visit to the Belt and Road Forum, which runs until Wednesday. He attended two previous forums in 2017 and 2019.
Belt and Road
The focus is on the Belt and Road Initiative, a major project launched by Xi a decade ago that he hopes will build global infrastructure and energy networks linking Asia to Africa and Europe via land and sea routes.
Putin has praised the initiative, saying it is a platform for international cooperation where “no one imposes anything on others.”
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia has strengthened its energy ties with China as a sign of its economic cooperation.
Russia exports about 2.0 million barrels of oil per day to China, more than a third of its total crude oil exports. Moscow aims to build a second natural gas pipeline to China.
While the heads of Russia’s oil and gas giants Rosneft and Gazprom will be part of Putin’s delegation, no new energy deals are expected.
The Kremlin said the trip was not a “full-fledged bilateral” visit, but on the sidelines of an international conference.
Reporting by Ryan Wu; Additional reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing: Christopher Cushing & Simon Cameron-Moore
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