Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Putin praised Xi Jinping for his "balanced" stance on the war in Ukraine and reprimanded the United States for "provocations" around Taiwan, Reuters reported.
This is Xi Jinping's first foreign tour since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking in his first face-to-face meeting with a Chinese leader since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Putin praised Xi for his stance, adding that he understood Beijing's "questions and concerns" about the war.
China has refrained from condemning Russia's war against Ukraine and has not directly called it an "invasion," in line with the rhetoric of the Kremlin, which sees the war as a "special military operation."
"We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis. We understand your questions and concerns about this. During today's meeting, we will, of course, explain our position," Putin said.
The head of the Kremlin also directly supported China's position on Taiwan.
China has conducted military exercises around Taiwan since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island last month. The Taiwanese government firmly rejects China's territorial claims.
"We intend to firmly adhere to the principle of 'One China,'" Putin said, adding that the Russian Federation condemns "the provocations of the United States and its allies in the Taiwan Strait."
When Xi and Putin last met in person, just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, they announced a "boundless" partnership and promised more cooperation against the West.
Nevertheless, Beijing is concerned about the consequences of Russia's war against Ukraine on the world economy and has been careful not to provide material support to Russia, which could trigger Western sanctions against China's economy.
The partnership between Xi and Putin is considered one of the most important developments in geopolitics since China's rapid rise over the past 40 years.
Although Russia and China have been rivals in the past, Putin and Xi share a common worldview that sees the West in decline. China is also challenging US global influence.
Xi said that China will cooperate with Russia.
"In the face of global and historical changes, China is ready to cooperate with Russia to play a leading role in demonstrating the responsibility of major powers, and to consolidate stability and positive energy in a world undergoing turmoil," Xi told Putin.