Xi Jinping invites Putin to visit China later this year during three-day trip to Moscow

At a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, President Xi said he had invited Putin to China,  ITV News' Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports

Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited Vladimir Putin to visit China later this year during a visit to Moscow.

At a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, President Xi said he had invited Putin to China to attend a top-level meeting of the country's One Belt, One Road project. The project seeks to extend Beijing's influence through economic cooperation.

Putin warmly welcomed Xi to the Kremlin on Monday, starting a three-day visit the two major powers described as an opportunity to deepen their “no-limits friendship.”

China is looking to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its energy-hungry economy, and as a partner in standing up to what they both see as US domination of global affairs.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Credit: AP

Xi said he aimed to “strengthen coordination and interaction” with Russia, adding that it would help “the prosperity and revival of China and Russia”.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused NATO of wanting to become the world’s dominant military force and said Moscow is trying to prevent it.

Western officials “have seen some signs” that Putin also wants lethal weapons from China, though there is no evidence Beijing has granted his request, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Tuesday.

“China should not provide lethal aid to Russia,” Stoltenberg said. "That would be to support an illegal war and only prolong the war.”

The talks come amid reports from China's state media that Russia is committed to being involved in peace talks as soon as possible.

Xi's invitation to China follows the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week issuing an arrest warrant for the Russian president over war crimes in connection with his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.

It also comes just days after Putin's surprise visit to the war-torn city of Mariupol.

Slammed by the city's mayor as a "war criminal returning to the scene of the crime", the trip was President Putin's first to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine's Donbass region since Moscow's invasion began last year.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida lays the flowers at a church in Bucha, Kyiv. Credit: AP

In Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for a surprise visit, with Moscow's invasion of Ukraine featuring as the centre piece of the meeting.

Japan has joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia over its invasion and providing humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine.

In contrast, China has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and criticised Western sanctions against Moscow, while accusing Nato and the United States of provoking Putin’s military action.

Moscow and Beijing have both weathered international condemnation of their human rights record in recent years.

The Chinese government has been widely condemned for alleged atrocities against Uighur Muslims in its far western Xinjiang region. The allegations include genocide, forced sterilisation and the mass detention of nearly one million Uighurs. Beijing has denied the allegations.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Credit: AP

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed Beijing’s contacts with Russia will help to bring about peace.

Both sets of meetings come a week after China and Japan enjoyed diplomatic successes that have emboldened their foreign policy.

It is uncertain whether either of the Asian leaders' visits to Kyiv and Moscow will change the course of the almost 13-month war in Ukraine, but the talks about 500 miles apart highlighted the war’s repercussions for international diplomacy as countries line up behind rival parties.

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