Russia, Xi Jinping begins his “peace visit” to Moscow: the program and what will be discussed

Elizabeth Smith

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins his state visit to Moscow today, which will continue until Wednesday. The China leader’s trip to Russia has been portrayed as a “visit for peace,” according to Beijing’s version.

The visit could represent an opportunity to try to find a solution to the conflict in Ukraine that has lasted more than a year.

Xi Jinping and Putin’s relationship

The meeting between Xi and Putin is 40th in person. Thus underscoring the continued importance of the understanding between the two countries.

The Kremlin wants to give the distinguished guest an imperial welcome. Ten years ago, on the first mission of the newly appointed Chinese president, he was treated to an unprecedented horse-drawn picket of honor and a long red carpet rolled out in St. George’s Hall.

Since then, the balance of power between the two countries has changed, and the invasion in Ukraine has put Putin in a position where he cannot do without “the friend of the heart” – as the two leaders called themselves in the phone call in late 2022. Who, helped keep Russia from collapsing under the weight of Western sanctions by buying oil and gas at a discount.

In more than a year of conflict, the two presidents met in person only in Samarkand, at the September 2022 summit of Sco countries. Since then, especially from Chinese communications, any mention of the “boundless partnership” that Xi and Putin defined in Beijing in February 2022, just three weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, has disappeared.

Moscow has let known that the two will sign a document on a “new era” of bilateral “partnership and strategic relations,” as announced by presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov. Along with another pact on the development of economic cooperation “until 2030.” The Chinese side said the mission “will be about friendship aimed at deepening mutual trust.”

The goals of Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow

Maintaining world peace and promoting common development “are the aims of China’s foreign policy,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. For whom “on the Ukrainian issue, China has always taken the side of peace, dialogue and historical fairness. The proposal we put forward can sum up in one sentence: pursue peace and promote talks.”

The reference is to the 12-point “Document on the Political Solution to the Ukrainian Crisis” released by Beijing on Feb. 24, the highlights of which include safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity and rejecting the use of nuclear weapons.

The plan has been rejected by the U.S. and allies. Who say only the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine can stop the war. While President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown readiness for talks with Xi, however, without receiving official responses.

There is anticipation to see what approach the Chinese leader will take with Putin, who is the recipient of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on war crimes charges for the illegal deportation of children.

Xi may press for a compromise solution while still having an interest in not cutting ties with Europe. Which is essential to resuscitate the Dragon’s post-Covid economy. Some analysts say he will not push Putin to withdraw from Ukraine. But, he will use the meeting to develop the bilateral strategic partnership.

The program of the official visit

The crucial day of the mission will be Tuesday, March 21, when negotiations will be held in a restricted and expanded format.

In the Georgievsky Hall of the Kremlin Grand Palace – where treaties on the accession to Russia of the four Ukrainian regions annexed by referendum took place last year – members of the Russian and Chinese delegations will be introduced to the leaders. Immediately afterwards, Xi and Putin will move to the Negotiation Hall.

After the press statements, the halls of the Palace of Facets, next to the Kremlin’s Grand Palace, will be the setting for the state dinner. As announced by Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic adviser Yuri Ushakov, at the dinner also heads of major companies will be present.

Meanwhile, one also wonders what gifts will be offered to the Chinese leader. They will be “not very expensive, but symbolic,” Ushakov let it be known.

Putin is used to giving gifts with a national flavor to his Chinese counterpart. In 2018, during his visit to China, Putin gave Xi an entire Russian sauna made of 300-year-old Altai cedars. He had been more modest two years earlier. In September 2016, he brought a package of Russian ice cream to Hangzhou, where the G20 summit was taking place.

Read also: Putin’s war: what are the real and alleged targets of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

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