Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Russia next week in what appears to be a show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the sharpening global tensions over the war in Ukraine.
Xi’s trip, which is expected to span from Monday to Wednesday, could be a diplomatic opportunity for Putin as Western leaders have looked to isolate the Russian president over his invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its 13th month. The war is expected to be the main topic of discussion during Xi’s visit.
China has refused to condemn Russia but has denounced Western sanctions and accused NATO And the United States of provoking Putin, further straining relations between the East and West especially as Washington continues to compete with Beijing for influence.
While China has not criticized Russia, it has said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all counties should be respected, but its unclear whether Beijing plans to position itself as a neutral peacemaker or Moscow supporter.
More:China President Xi to visit Russia in apparent show of support for Putin amid Ukraine war
Chinese urged Ukraine to have talks with Russia
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing was concerned about the year-old conflict spinning out of control and urged talks on a political solution with Moscow.
China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks,” Qin said.
Kuleba later tweeted that he and Qin “discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity.” Ukraine has listed Russia’s withdrawal from the occupied areas as the main condition for peace, and China has its own territorial integrity issues with Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.
“I underscored the importance of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s)’s peace formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine,” wrote Kuleba, who spoke the same day with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Forensic expert analyzes Russian jet interception
Forensic expert David Notowitz called the crash of the U.S. drone by a Russian fighter jet an “accident,” following his analysis of the Pentagon-released video of what it said was a Russian jet dumping fuel on a U.S. Air Force surveillance drone before clipping the drone’s propeller and leading to its crash in the Black Sea.
“This drone is quite large, so hitting it with another plane would be a very dangerous thing to do,” said Notowiz, the president of the National Center for Audio and Video Forensic. “From that logistical standpoint it seems like it must have been an accident, cause you’re not going to risk your fancy planes just for a drone and they could have taken it down other ways, so I think this was an accident.
Two Russian fighters intercepted the drone Tuesday, dumping fuel on it and flying in front of it during which one of the fighters clipped the propeller of the drone, forcing U.S. operators to bring it down in international waters, U.S. officials said.
While interception attempts aren’t uncommon, the incident amid the tense relations between Washington and Moscow have has raised it could bring the two countries closer to a direct conflict.
Contributing: The Associated Press