The "special relationship" between China and Russia is entering a "new era", assured, Tuesday March 21, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, at the end of a summit during which the Russian president cautiously supported the peace plan presented by Beijing.
This plan, he said, has elements that can "serve as a basis for a peaceful settlement [of the conflict], when they are ready for it in the West and in Kyiv." However, we do not currently see such a disposition from their side,” he added.
In Kiev, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he "invited" China to be part of the settlement of the conflict and "await its response", adding "to receive signals but nothing concrete". The Kremlin ruler, who rolled out the red carpet for Xi for the state visit that ends on Wednesday, hailed the "special nature of Russian-Chinese relations."
In a joint statement with Cold War overtones, the two leaders sharply lashed out at Western powers, accusing the United States of "undermining" international security to maintain its "military edge", and expressing "concern" over NATO's growing presence in Asia. They further assert that a nuclear war must "never" take place.
Vladimir Putin was particularly warm with his Chinese host, calling him "dear friend" and "comrade Xi". The two heads of state even toasted the "prosperity" of the Russian and Chinese peoples during a state dinner. "Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects," Putin exclaimed.
By making this trip to Moscow, Xi Jinping is clearly expressing his support for the Russian head of state, who has been the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) since last week. Treated as an outcast by Westerners since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, he can count on Beijing to break his isolation. His counterpart invited him to go to China this year.
Beyond strategic considerations, the summit focused on strengthening the economic partnership between their two countries, particularly in terms of hydrocarbons. Russia has massively reoriented its economy towards China, in the face of heavy Western sanctions against it.
In this context, Mr. Putin announced on Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with Mr. Xi on the gigantic Siberian Force 2 gas pipeline project, which would eventually allow Russia to supply an additional 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
The Russian head of state, anxious to find new outlets for hydrocarbons boycotted by Europe, had previously assured that his country was "able to meet China's growing demand for energy". The Russian giant Gazprom also announced on Tuesday that it had delivered a "record" quantity of gas the day before via the cross-border Siberian Force gas pipeline.