Xi Jinping’s visit by Vladimir Putin to Moscow sends a strong message to Western leaders allied with Ukraine: their efforts to isolate Russia have failed. The one reserved by the Russian president for his Chinese counterpart is a warm welcome, in the Kremlin for the informal meeting that precedes the formal meeting on Tuesday, smiles and appellations of mutual appreciation such as “dear friend” are flocked between the two; Putin had not been found at the end of the red carpet rolled out for Xi at the Moscow airport, where he sent Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, but this is what the protocol provides, so it is not an affront.
The meeting lasted 4 and a half hours, during which the Chinese peace plan was undoubtedly on the table: Dmitry Peskov had anticipated it and Putin himself confirmed it at the beginning of the meeting. “We have studied your proposal on a peace plan, we are always ready and open to a negotiating plan, we will study all the issues with you too”, Putin told Xi, adding that they are “proposals for which we have great respect ». Putin congratulated Xi on his re-election and expressed hope of building even stronger ties. And the Chinese head of state reciprocated by saying he is confident that the Russians will support Putin in the next presidential elections of 2024.
From the United States, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, remarked speaking with CNN that Xi should also hear from Zelensky. President Joe Biden will speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping “at the appropriate time,” Kirby later said in a briefing, adding that Xi should “push” Putin to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as he expects “for all countries» the Chinese peace proposal. And again: “We hope that Xi will push Putin” to put an end to the invasion and to “withdraw his troops”, said Kirby, who however rejected any proposal for a “ceasefire that does not require the withdrawal of Russian troops” because ” would ratify” the conquests.
Xi’s 3-day trip, his first abroad since his re-election to China‘s presidency earlier this month, showcases a new diplomatic prominence from Beijing and gives Putin a political boost just days after the mandate is issued arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges for the illegal transfer of thousands of children from Ukraine. While Kiev has launched the “Children of War” platform to “find children, rescue them and free them from places of forced transfer or deportation”, Russia has opened a criminal investigation against the ICC judges who issued the writ of arrest for Putin. And Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, threatened to launch a missile at the courthouse: «It is quite possible to imagine the targeted use of a hypersonic Onyx from the North Sea by a Russian ship towards the court of the Hague”.
For Putin, Xi’s presence is a prestigious diplomatic triumph amid Western efforts to isolate Russia in relation to the war in Ukraine. In an increasingly multipolar world, the United States and its allies have failed to build a broad front against Putin: it is true that 141 countries condemned Moscow in the United Nations vote on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine but many G20 members, including India, China and South Africa, chose to abstain, and many African countries also refrained from openly criticizing Russia. China looks to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy and as a partner in countering what they both see as US dominance of global affairs. The two countries, which are among the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, also held joint military exercises.
China is ready “together with Russia” to “monitor” the world order “based on international law and aiming at multilateralism,” said Xi, who focused on multipolarity in an article published on the occasion of his visit to Moscow in the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Russia and China “are implementing true multipolarity with effective measures and are supporting the formation of a new type of international relations”, she said, underlining that “there is no world order where the word belongs only to a particular country”. An intervention “reciprocated” by Putin with an article published by the Chinese “People’s Daily”, in which he described Xi’s visit as a “historic event” that “reaffirms the special nature of the Russia-China partnership”, which he defined ” cornerstone of regional and global stability”.