May 23, 2024

(Bloomberg) — China’s top diplomat pledged to strengthen his country’s “strategic coordination” with Russia, as the two nations lay the groundwork for a meeting of their leaders in Beijing next month.

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Foreign Minister Wang Yi is making a three-day trip to Moscow for security and foreign policy talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, as the two sides continue to deepen ties.

China and Russia should “demonstrate their responsibilities as major powers, fulfill their due international obligations, and continue to strengthen strategic coordination,” Wang said on Monday, according to a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry. He added that neither side should be influenced by “third parties,” in a veiled reference to the US.

Russia’s Foreign Minister said both nations should “strengthen coordination and collaboration within multilateral frameworks,” such as the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, according to the statement.

Their meeting takes place at the same time as the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. China has sent Vice President Han Zheng — a largely ceremonial figure — to that huddle this year. In previous years, President Xi Jinping or Wang have attended.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China next month for the Belt and Road Initiative forum, where he’s set to sit down with Xi. That will be the Russian’s first foreign trip since the warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court.

China has been Russia’s biggest supporter since Putin last year ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with Beijing offering both economic and diplomatic shelter.

At the same time, China has tried to cast itself as a peacemaker in the war, unveiling a vague 12-point peace blueprint in February. That plan has been rejected by Kyiv and the US, as it calls for a cease-fire would freeze Russian forces in place in Ukraine.

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