Putin and Xi praise their relationship while Russia struggles

In their discussions on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the growing relations between their nations, despite indications that Beijing was growing impatient with the broader political and economic effects of Russia’s ill-fated invasion of Ukraine.

Their phone contact towards the end of the year, their first conversations since Xi and Putin’s in-person meeting in Uzbekistan in September, highlights Moscow’s growing reliance on Beijing. During a televised meeting segment, Putin addressed Xi as “dear buddy,” and the Chinese leader reciprocated.

The road to peace talks won’t be easy. Still, Xi assured Putin that Beijing would continue to contribute to efforts to resolve the Ukraine “crisis,” according to later reports from Chinese official television. According to the broadcaster, Xi added that China and Russia should work to advance their collaboration in commerce, energy, finance, and agriculture.

Beijing has refrained from officially denouncing the invasion or even referring to it as a war, blaming Washington instead of deliberately inciting Russia by attempting to extend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But Xi has taken action to separate himself from Russia as the Ukraine conflict shows little promise of concluding anytime soon. At the Group of 20 meetings last month in Bali, China endorsed a statement that read, “The majority of members strongly denounced the war in Ukraine.”

The world’s two most powerful countries were able to defuse tensions thanks to a conference between Chinese President Xi and US President Joe Biden at the G-20. The two condemned the Kremlin’s casual rhetoric of nuclear war over Ukraine.

Russia is increasingly looking to China for imports, as an oil buyer, diverted away from European markets due to the economy being hurt by extraordinary sanctions from the US, Europe, and its allies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Russian exports will decrease by approximately 16% this year, and worldwide imports will fall by almost 19% this year compared to 2021. In contrast, according to IMF data, Russia’s exports to China increased by 23% in the first nine months of 2022 over the same period in the previous year.

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