Russian President Vladimir Putin will fly to China this week to host the Olympic Games. He will have a face-to-face meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping there for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The Kremlin reports that the leaders have a “common vision” on international security.
The summit between world leaders comes at a sensitive time. In the run-up to the prestigious sporting event in China, fears are growing that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine. The Russians have gathered a large force on the border with that Eastern European country.
Russia denies that it has plans for an invasion and blames the West. That would not adequately address concerns about Russia’s national security. The Russian government feels threatened by the expansion of NATO and demands guarantees that Ukraine cannot join that military alliance.
Putin, meanwhile, is strengthening ties with China. He was there early when he announced in September that he would attend the Beijing Games in person. Xi later made it clear that he was looking forward to meeting the Russian president. The Kremlin has now announced that the leaders will have lunch together on Friday. Putin will also attend the opening ceremony of the Games.
The Russian leader takes a heavy delegation with him. During his visit, there will also be a summit on economic cooperation between neighbouring countries. A Putin adviser said it is looking at building a sanction-resistant joint financial infrastructure. Deals related to natural gas trading would also be prepared.