China's President Xi Jinping puts on calculated show of solidarity with Putin during Russia visit

President Xi Jinping's three-day state visit to Russia comes just days after a warrant was issued for President Putin's arrest, ITV News' Asia Correspondent Debi Edwards reports.

When Xi Jinping touched down in Moscow on Monday afternoon he said he was delighted to once again set foot on the land of his friendly neighbour.

It is a journey he has made several times having visited or hosted President Vladimir Putin more than any other world leader during the decade he has been in charge.

Putin described the two men as having a ‘’brotherly friendship’’.  

This three-day state visit provides a huge morale boost for the Russian President, coming at a time when casualties are mounting in Ukraine and just days after a warrant was issued for his arrest.  

President Xi knows he will be seen to support an alleged war criminal, but this is a calculated show of solidarity.

Xi claims to be on a mission for peace, ready to use his leverage with Russia to help broker a deal in Ukraine.

In his welcome statement Putin confirmed the two men will discuss Beijing’s proposal. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow. Credit: AP

Moscow’s narrative that NATO's expansion triggered the war, has been echoed by Beijing but it now appears the Chinese leader is seeking to prevent a drawn-out conflict and trying not to be seen as a malign player by its biggest trading partners, the EU and the US.  

Having recently helped to negotiate a diplomatic solution between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China has gained confidence in its global authority. 

The peace plan China has put forward calls for a ceasefire and dialogue between the two sides, but it does not address Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian territory.

And it was clear from that defiant tour Putin made of the occupied Donbas region on Sunday that he’s unlikely to give up any of his illegally gained ground.  

President Zelenskyy has said he will only enter peace talks if Russia withdraws all troops, including from Crimea which Russia seized in 2014.

So, even if Xi finally makes a call to Kyiv in the days following his visit to Moscow, the prospect of a peace deal still seems unlikely in the short term.  

President Xi still hasn’t spoken to Zelenskyy since the start of the war. The Ukrainian leader has appealed several times for the Chinese leader to engage with him, to no avail.

China's credibility as a peace maker depends on whether Xi does finally reach out to the other side in Kyiv, and there are indications a call will be made in the coming days.  

But even this attempt at intervention will give China the opportunity to claim the moral high ground.

It will hold up its 12-point plan and say, "you can no longer accuse us of not trying".  

For Putin, this trip demonstrates Xi’s commitment to Russia and it will be played up to a domestic audience as support for his ‘’special military operation’’. 

President Xi will use this visit to project his growing global influence, and what he believes is China's increasingly powerful role in the world.   

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