Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Russia in apparent show of support to Vladimir Putin

Putin invited Xi Jinping to visit Russia during a video conference call the two held in late December. Credit: AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to visit Russia in an apparent show of support for President Vladimir Putin, as East-West tensions grow over the Ukraine war.

The visit is taking place at "the invitation of Vladimir Putin", said the Kremlin, and Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine is expected to dominate the discussions during Xi's three-day visit from Monday to Wednesday.

China has refused to condemn Moscow’s action and previously tried to project itself as neutral in the conflict, even while Beijing declared last year that it had a “no-limits” friendship with Russia.

Both countries announced the leaders' meeting on Friday, with Moscow saying China and Russia would discuss the development of their partnership and "deepening" of their cooperation.

The two leaders will also sign “important bilateral documents,” the statement read.

China has said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected while condemning Western sanctions.

It also went on to accuse NATO and the US of provoking Russia into military action.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing was concerned about the year-old conflict spinning out of control and urged talks on a political solution with Moscow.

China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks," Qin said.

Kuleba later tweeted that he and Qin "discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity".

“I underscored the importance of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s)’s peace formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine,” wrote Kuleba, who spoke the same day with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a daily briefing on Friday that Xi will discuss, “bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common concern".

He said the pair hope to promote cooperation between the two countries and improve their relationship.

Wenbin added: "Currently, the world is entering a new period of turbulences and reform with the accelerated evolution of changes of the century.

"As permanent members of the UN Security Council and important major countries, the significance and impact of the China-Russia relations go far beyond the bilateral sphere.”

The visit comes after Putin invited Xi to visit Russia during a video conference call the two held in late December.

Putin said the visit could “demonstrate to the whole world the strength of the Russian-Chinese ties” and “become the main political event of the year in bilateral relations”.

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore has the latest developments on the aerial confrontation which saw a Russian fighter jet appear to dump fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone

The trip comes after the destruction of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea following an encounter with Russian fighter jets.

This incident has brought the two countries the closest to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.