Russia’s Lavrov to visit China to discuss Ukraine war

Moscow — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit China on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the war in Ukraine and the deepening partnership between Moscow and Beijing.

Talks between Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who extended the invitation to the Russian minister, will include bilateral cooperation as well as “hot topics,” such as the crisis in Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Reuters reported last month that Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to China in May for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in what could be the Kremlin chief’s first overseas trip of his new presidential term.

China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War II.

The United States casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat, while U.S. President Joe Biden argues that this century will be defined by an existential contest between democracies and autocracies.

Putin and Xi share a broad world view, which sees the West as decadent and in decline just as China challenges U.S. supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

China-Russian trade hit a record of $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3% from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data.

Chinese shipments to Russia jumped 46.9% in 2023 while imports from Russia rose 13%.

China-United States trade fell 11.6% to $664.5 billion in 2023, according to the Chinese customs data.

One year into the Ukraine war, China in 2023 published a 12-point position paper on settling the Ukraine crisis. Russia has said China’s position is reasonable.

Switzerland in January agreed to hold a peace summit at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has put forward a peace formula that calls for a full Russian withdrawal from all territory controlled by Russian forces.

Reuters reported in February that Putin’s suggestion of a cease-fire in Ukraine to freeze the war was rejected by the United States after contacts between intermediaries.

Moscow says that Zelenskyy’s proposals amount to a ridiculous ultimatum and that the proposed meeting in Switzerland was being used by the West to try to garner support for Ukraine among the Global South.

Russia says that any peace in Ukraine would have to accept the reality of its control over just under one fifth of Ukraine and include a broader agreement on European security.

Ukraine says it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.

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