Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is scheduled to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on Thursday. Challenge their agenda.
Putin, who has grown increasingly isolated from the United States and its allies over the invasion of Ukraine, has recently faced a spate of losses on the battlefield. Xi Jinping is under pressure as China’s coronavirus-free policy takes a toll on the economy and will have to show his strength in the weeks leading up to a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership.
The two countries will meet at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a multilateral security-focused organization that includes China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries.
Upon arriving in Uzbekistan late Wednesday, Xi was greeted at Samarkand’s airport by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Chinese state media showed dancers and musicians in traditional costumes performing and applauding vigorously as Xi entered the arrivals hall.
The last time Putin and Xi met was in February, before the Winter Olympics began in Beijing. In a 5,300-word statement, they declared “no limits” friendship and criticized US influence in their region.
Days after the Beijing Olympics ended, Russia invaded Ukraine, but China has refused to criticize Mr Putin’s actions or call the conflict a war.
China’s support is important for Russia. China bought record levels of Russian crude in May, June and July. But Beijing has been careful not to violate sanctions against Russia.
For Xi Jinping, the meeting is also an opportunity to resume his role as a global politician. This is my first overseas trip since I went to Myanmar in January 2020. His visit to Hong Kong, which marks his 25th anniversary of handover from Chinese rule on July 1, was his first trip outside mainland China since the pandemic began.
Xi, who is trying to build a power base in the region, traveled to Kazakhstan on Wednesday and made a short stop at the beginning of his trip before heading to Uzbekistan in the evening. President Xi used his 2013 visit to China to announce a massive international investment and development program that has come to be known as the Belt and Road Initiative.