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Putin will travel to China in May for talks with Xi Jinping - Reuters

Putin will travel to China in May for talks with Xi Jinping - Reuters Photo: Putin will travel to Xi Jinping again (Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin will travel to China in May for talks with Xi Jinping, which could mark the Kremlin chief's first foreign trip since his reelection for a new presidential term, according to Reuters.

"Putin will visit China," Reuters reported, citing one anonymous source. Four other sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, independently confirmed the details.

Another source said Putin's trip to China will likely occur in the second half of May. Two sources indicated that Putin's visit would precede Xi's planned trip to Europe.

Western governments have criticized Putin's reelection as unfair and undemocratic. However, China, India, and North Korea have welcomed his extension of rule for another six years, emphasizing geopolitical fault lines that widened after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Close ties

In recent years, China has strengthened its trade and military ties with Russia as the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on both countries, especially Moscow, for its invasion of Ukraine. The two countries declared an "unbounded" partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before the invasion.

Foreign diplomats and observers said they expect Putin to make China his first stop after reelection. Putin's official inauguration is scheduled for around May 7.

Putin said Russia and China share similar global views and have strong relations, partly due to his good personal relationship with Xi Jinping. He also said Moscow and Beijing will continue to develop ties in the coming years.

Xi visited Russia during his first foreign trip after the pandemic in March last year, shortly after beginning his unprecedented third term as president of China.

The two leaders have often emphasized their close personal friendship and have met more than 40 times, most recently in October when Putin was a guest of honor at the Belt and Road Summit in Beijing.

According to China's customs, bilateral trade between China and Russia totaled $218.2 billion from January to November, surpassing the two countries' goal of increasing bilateral trade to over $200 billion by 2024.

China's role

Xi Jinping said in a phone call with Putin last month that both sides must resolutely oppose interference in the internal affairs of external forces, pointing to the United States.

According to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said bilateral relations were "the best in history" during a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow last month.

The ambassador in Bern said China is considering participating in a peace conference in the coming months organized by neutral Switzerland to end the war in Ukraine.

Last year, Beijing launched a "peace" plan for Ukraine with 12 points but has yet to take significant steps to resolve the conflict, apart from participating in peace talks led by the West in Jeddah last summer.

Earlier this month, China's special envoy for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, met with officials in five European capitals, including Moscow and Kyiv.