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Putin arrives in China to meet Xi Jinping, talks on defence cooperation, Israel-Hamas war on the cards

Putin arrived in Beijing on Tuesday with an honour guard meeting his plane. His visit is also a show of support for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative. According to reports, both leaders may also discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Beijing Updated on: October 17, 2023 10:05 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives in Beijing
Image Source : AP Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives in Beijing today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in China on Tuesday, where he is scheduled to meet his "dear friend" Xi Jinping. Notably, this is Putin's second first visit to Beijing after he announced a war against Ukraine last year. Earlier, in February last year-- barely a few days before the announcement of the so-called "special military operation"-- he attended the Winter Olympics.

 His latest visit is also a show of support for Chinese leader Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative to build infrastructure and expand China’s overseas influence.

Putin praises BRI project

In an interview with Chinese state media, Putin praised the massive but loosely linked BRI projects. “Yes, we see that some people consider it an attempt by the People’s Republic of China to put someone under its thumb, but we see otherwise, we just see the desire for cooperation,” he told state broadcaster CCTV, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin on Monday.

The Russian leader will be among the highest profile guests at a gathering marking the 10th anniversary of Xi’s announcement of the BRI policy, which has laden countries such as Zambia and Sri Lanka with heavy debt after they signed contracts with Chinese companies to build roads, airports and other public works they could not otherwise afford.

Asked by reporters on Friday about his visit, Putin said it would encompass talks on Belt and Road-related projects, which he said Moscow wants to link with efforts by an economic alliance of ex-Soviet Union nations mostly located in Central Asia to “achieve common development goals.” He also downplayed the impact of China’s economic influence in a region that Russia has long considered its backyard and where it has worked to maintain political and military clout.

Putin said he and Xi will also discuss growing economic and financial ties

“We don’t have any contradictions here, on the contrary, there is a certain synergy,” Putin said. Putin said he and Xi will also discuss growing economic and financial ties between Moscow and Beijing.

Beijing and Moscow have financial ties in energy, high-tech and financial industries. China has also grown in importance as an export destination for Moscow.

Alexander Gabuev, director of Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, said that from China’s view, “Russia is a safe neighbour that is friendly, that is a source of cheap raw materials, that’s a support for Chinese initiatives on the global stage and that’s also a source of military technologies, some of those that China doesn’t have.” “For Russia, China is its lifeline, an economic lifeline in its brutal repression against Ukraine,” Gabuev told The Associated Press.

“It’s the major market for Russian commodities, it’s a country that provides its currency and payment system to settle Russia’s trade with the outside world — with China itself, but also with many other countries, and is also the major source of sophisticated technological imports, including dual-use goods that go into the Russian military machine.”

Gabuev said that while Moscow and Beijing will be unlikely to forge a full-fledged military alliance, their defence cooperation will grow.

“I don’t expect that Russia and China will create a military alliance,” Gabuev said. “Both countries are self-sufficient in terms of security and they benefit from partnering, but neither really requires a security guarantee from the other. And they preach strategic autonomy.”

“There will be no military alliance, but there will be closer military cooperation, more interoperability, more cooperation on projecting force together, including in places like the Arctic and more joint effort to develop a missile defence that makes the U.S. nuclear planning and planning of the US and its allies in Asia and in Europe more complicated,” he added.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: India to again boycott China's Belt and Road event amid criticism of CPEC: Sources

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