Friday, February 3, 2023

Putin tells Xi he wants to ramp up military cooperation

Putin tells Xi he wants to ramp up military cooperation

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian leader Vladimir Putin told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday he was keen to ramp up military cooperation and hailed the two countries' efforts to counter Western influence.

Battered by unprecedented Western sanctions over Moscow's assault against Ukraine, Putin wants to strengthen political, economic and military ties with China. But Moscow's offensive in Ukraine is a sensitive issue for Beijing, which has sought to position itself as neutral but has offered diplomatic backing to its strategic ally Russia.

The two leaders called each other "friends" as they both expressed interest in closer ties. "We aim to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China," Putin told Xi by video link at the start of the talks, calling the Chinese leader a "dear friend".

The Kremlin chief also hailed the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to counter "unprecedented Western pressure and provocations". "In the context of growing geopolitical tensions, the importance is growing of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership as a stabilising factor," Putin said.

"We share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape," he added. As the West seeks to cut reliance on Russian oil and gas, Putin has looked to energy markets in Asia.

"Russia has become one of the leaders when it comes to oil exports to China," Putin said. The Russian leader said he was expecting Xi in Moscow on a state visit next spring. Xi, who also called Putin "my friend", said he was satisfied by the two countries' growing ties.

"Under our joint leadership, the China-Russia comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction in the new era is showing maturity and resilience," he said in translated comments released by the Kremlin. "We are ready to ramp up strategic cooperation with Russia, give each other opportunities to develop, be global partners for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability in the world," Xi said.

Referring to a "turbulent international situation," CCTV, China's state broadcaster, said after the talks that China and Russia should strengthen "strategic" cooperation. "China is ready to work with Russia and all progressive forces around the world to oppose unilateralism, protectionism and bullying," the broadcaster said.

"It has been proved repeatedly that containment and suppression are unpopular, and sanctions and interference are doomed to fail," it added.