Chinese leader Xi Jinping is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday in a show of diplomatic support, as Moscow contends with growing international isolation over its faltering invasion of Ukraine.
In their meeting, Russian state media reported Putin condemned US “provocations” in the Taiwan Strait, and said he “highly appreciates” China’s “balanced position” on the Ukraine crisis.
The two authoritarian leaders have emerged as close partners in recent years, propelled by growing conflict with the West and a strong personal bond.
China has offered tacit support for Russia over Ukraine, while Moscow has backed Beijing and criticized Washington over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Beijing responded with unprecedented military drills around the self-governing diplomatic island, which it claims as its own territory.
In a statement released by the Kremlin, Putin said: “The foreign policy tandem of Moscow and Beijing plays a key role in ensuring global and regional stability. We jointly stand for the formation of a just, democratic and multipolar world order based on international rules and the central role of the UN.”
The two are holding talks in Uzbekistan, at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security-focused grouping that also includes India, Pakistan and four Central Asian nations.
In a symbolic show of force and unity, Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint patrols and exercises in the Pacific Ocean just hours before their leaders’ meeting, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
The meeting, their first face-to-face since the invasion, comes at a potentially consequential moment for Putin, whose troops are retreating en mass in the northeast of Ukraine, losing more territory in a week than they captured in five months.