China’s President Xi Jinping has said he signed an agreement with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin bringing their ties into a “new era” of cooperation, as the two leaders called for “responsible dialogue” to resolve the Ukraine crisis.
The Chinese leader visited Moscow days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for crimes committed in the neighbouring country, where Russian forces have made little progress in recent months despite suffering heavy losses.
On the conflict, the Chinese leader said Beijing was “guided by the principles of the United Nations … and promote a peaceful settlement” of fighting in Ukraine.
“We are always for peace and dialogue,” he added.
A joint statement
A joint statement included familiar accusations against the West – that Washington was undermining global stability and NATO was barging into the Asia-Pacific region.
Putin said a Chinese proposal to end the conflict could be used as the basis of a peace settlement, but that the West and Kyiv were
“We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side,” Putin said.
The United States has been dismissive of the plan, given Beijing’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has said a ceasefire would lock in Russian territorial gains and give Putin’s army more time to regroup.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said Kyiv had suggested to China that Beijing join a Ukrainian peace formula to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, but that it was still waiting for an answer.
The pipeline has gained urgency as Moscow seeks to replace Europe as its major gas customer.
Russia’s news agency, TASS, reported that the two leaders also discussed the internet and agreed that they stand “against militarization of information and communication technologies and support multilateral, equal and transparent management of the Internet”.
“[They] support creation of a multilateral, equal and transparent global management system of the Internet with the support of sovereignty and security of all countries in this sphere,” TASS quoted the agreement as saying.
At a state dinner following the talks, Putin toasted the “prosperity” of the Russian and Chinese peoples.
“I am sure that Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects,” he said.
Samuel Ramani, the associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Al Jazeera that while Tuesday’s agreement was not an alliance, it was “very clear that China and Russia are coordinating on a variety of fronts.”
Zelenskyy posted footage of him greeting Japan’s Fumio Kishida, whom the Ukrainian leader called “a truly powerful defender of the international order and a longtime friend of Ukraine”.