Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Wednesday while addressing the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok that he will soon meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which will mark a significant first bilateral summit since Russia launched the Ukraine invasion on Feb.24.
Putin told the forum in Russia’s far east, “I hope to see Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan soon.” As we described earlier, the Chinese delegation was the largest in attendance for the annual economic meeting.
Kremlin officials also confirmed to the Associated Press that “Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet next week at summit in Uzbekistan.” The two large nuclear-armed nations also just wrapped up a week of joint war games, among multiple other nations represented, at Vostok 2022 in the same far eastern region of Russia.
CNN notes that “On Wednesday, China’s number three leader Li Zhanshu, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, became the highest ranking official to leave China since 2020, when he arrived in Vladivostok to attend the Eastern Economic Forum. Li was expected to meet Putin on Wednesday, according to Tass.”
President Xi rarely leaves the country, and the Uzbekistan summit will be his first overseas trip since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Russia’s ambassador to Beijing Andrey Denisov described the significance in state media:
“This summit promises to be interesting, because it will be the first full-fledged summit since the pandemic,” Denisov said, according to Tass.
“I do not want to say that online summits are not full-fledged, but still, direct communication between leaders is a different quality of discussion … We are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda, which we are now, in fact, working on with our Chinese partners,” the diplomat said.
On Tuesday, the Kremlin had issued a statement underscoring the importance growing Chinese cooperation: “Russia-China relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation are developing progressively,” it said just ahead of Putin’s address to the EEF.
The statement further hailed “China’s balanced approach to the Ukraine crisis” and its “understanding” of what’s driving Moscow’s ‘special operation’ in Ukraine.
Just days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow and Beijing had declared a “no limits” partnership amid a growing standoff with the West, which has since included unprecedented sanctions and economic war against Russia as punishment for its military offensive.
In October, Russia and China held joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan. Days later, Russian and Chinese warships held their first joint patrols in the western Pacific. The next month, South Korea’s military said it had scrambled fighter jets after two Chinese and seven Russian warplanes intruded into its air defense identification zone during what Beijing called regular training. Thus it’s clear that the past years have seen these two nuclear-armed superpowers grow in economic cooperation and military coordination.