Putin and Xi show their solidarity with the West
Sylvie Claire / September 16, 2022
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday displayed their willingness to support each other and strengthen their ties in the midst of a crisis with the West.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, at a time when relations between their countries and the United States are highly strained.
In this context, the rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow, whose relations are not without friction, is a front against the United States, which they consider hostile to their interests.
"China is willing to work with Russia to assume their responsibility as great powers, play a leading role and inject stability and positive energy into a world plagued by chaos," said Xi Jinping at the beginning of the interview broadcast live.
According to Chinese state television, Mr. Xi also told Mr. Putin that China was ready to "work with Russia to firmly and mutually support each other on issues related to the fundamental interests of each other and deepen cooperation.
Mr. Putin, for his part, denounced Western attempts to "create a unipolar world", which have "recently taken an absolutely ugly form and are totally unacceptable ».
Their previous meeting went back to last February, when the Russian president went to the Winter Olympics in Beijing. At that time, they had proclaimed their "unlimited" friendship. A few days later, Mr. Putin launched his troops against Ukraine.
While he welcomed Thursday the "balanced position" of Mr. Xi on Ukraine, the Russian head of state also said he "understands (his) questions and (his) concerns" on this subject. "We will explain in detail our position," he added, without further details.
Beijing has neither supported nor publicly criticized the Russian invasion, while repeatedly expressing support for Moscow in the face of Western sanctions.
According to Chinese state television, Mr. Xi was also scheduled to hold talks in Samarkand with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Russia's main ally.
For Mr. Putin, who is trying to accelerate a turn toward Asia in the face of Western sanctions against his country following his offensive against Ukraine, where his army is in trouble, this summit is an opportunity to show that Russia is not isolated.
As if to signal their rapprochement in the face of tensions with the West, Russian and Chinese ships conducted a joint patrol in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday to "strengthen their maritime cooperation," the Russian Defense Ministry said.
During the meeting Thursday, Putin reiterated Moscow's support for Beijing over Taiwan, where visits by U.S. officials in recent weeks have drawn the ire of China, condemning a "provocation."
The SCO, whose members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four former Soviet republics in Central Asia, was created in 2001 as a tool for political, economic and security cooperation to compete with Western organizations.
Putin is scheduled to hold talks with several other leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.