Russian President Vladimir V. Putin met Xi Jinping, China’s leader, on Thursday in Uzbekistan, a summit intended to signal the strength of the relationship between the two authoritarian leaders at a time of joining increasing hostility to the West and challenging them. agenda.
Mr. Putin, who has become more isolated from the United States and its allies over the invasion of Ukraine, has faced a series of recent casualties on the battlefield. Mr. Xi, who is under pressure as the country’s zero-Covid policy hurts the economy, needs to come to power in the weeks before a meeting of the country’s Communist Party leadership.
The two sides held talks on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a multilateral, security-focused organization that includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries. The Kremlin reported that the meeting had already begun but released some details.
China’s support is very important to Russia. China bought record amounts of Russian oil in May, June and July. However, Beijing has been careful to avoid violating sanctions against Russia that could result in the country being sanctioned as well.
Upon arriving in Uzbekistan late on Wednesday, Mr. Xi was greeted at the airport in Samarkand by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who, unlike Mr. Xi, did not wear a mask. Chinese state media shows dancers and musicians in traditional costumes performed and then applauded enthusiastically as Mr. Xi entered the arrivals hall.
Mr. Putin and the last Mr. Xi meet in February, before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. In a 5,300-word statement, they proclaimed friendship “without limits” and criticized US influence in their region.
Russia invaded Ukraine days after the Beijing Olympics ended, and China refused to criticize Putin’s actions or treat the conflict as a war.
For Mr. Xi, the meeting is also an opportunity for him to resume his role as a global statesman. This is his first overseas trip since he arrived in Myanmar in January 2020. He went to Hong Kong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of China’s return to control on July 1. his first outside of mainland China since the start of the pandemic.
As he tries to build a power base in the region, Mr. Xi arrived in Kazakhstan on Wednesday for a brief stop at the start of his trip before heading to Uzbekistan in the evening. Mr. Xi used a trip to the country in 2013 to inform an extensive international development and investment program known as the Belt and Road Initiative.