By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday held a video conference where the Russian leader invited Xi to make a state visit to Russia in spring 2023.
Putin in his introductory remark in the meeting broadcast on state television quoted to have said the visit would “demonstrate to the world the closeness of Russian-Chinese relations”.
He continued, “We are expecting you, dear Mr Chairman, dear friend, we are expecting you next spring on a state visit to Moscow.”
The visit, if it happens, would be a public show of solidarity from Beijing as Russia seeks to salvage its fortunes after invading Ukraine in what Moscow calls “special military operation”.
Putin, in his eight-minute address, stressed the importance of having China as an ally. He said Russia-China relations were growing in importance as a stabilising factor.
Putin also wants to deepen military cooperation between the two countries.
Responding to Putin’s friendly address, Xi said China was ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia during a “difficult” situation in the world at large.
While Russia finds itself isolated amidst its war in Ukraine, with sanctions being imposed against it by Western countries, China has emerged as a significant partner of Moscow.
The two sides have hailed their relationship as a “no limits” partnership. China has refrained from condemning Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and has instead stressed the need for peace.
In trade also, Russian energy exports to China have risen significantly since the outbreak of the conflict and Moscow is now China’s single largest oil supplier. However, Beijing hasn’t reciprocated with material support fearing the move might provoke Western sanctions against China.