BEIJING: Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in the northeastern city of Harbin on Friday, the final day of a visit aiming to promote crucial trade with China and win greater support for his war effort in Ukraine.

Putin arrived on Thursday on his first trip abroad since his March re-election, meeting Pres­ident Xi Jinping for talks in which the leaders framed their nations’ ties as a stabilising force in a chaotic world.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Russia-China trade expo on Friday, Putin hailed energy ties between the two countries and promised to “strengt­hen” them. “Russia is ready and able to continuously power the Chinese economy, businesses, cities and towns with affordable and environmentally clean energy.”

“As the world is on the threshold of the next technological revolution, we are determined to consistently deepen bilateral cooperation in the field of high technologies and innovations,” he said.

China and Russia were “important components of contemporary civilisation”, he said. “We have our own point of view on how we should develop,” he warned.

Putin’s visit comes a week after a major new ground assault in Ukraine, Moscow’s biggest advance in 18 months.

At a news conference on Friday, Putin said the move had been made to stop cross-border shelling, but added there were no current plans to capture Kharkiv city.

“This is their fault because they have shelled and continue to shell residential neighbourhoods in border areas,” Putin told reporters.

“I said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone.”

Putin said he and Xi had discussed the conflict, noting that he believed China “is sincerely seeking to resolve this problem”.

Xi said in a statement following talks with Putin on Thursday that the two sides agreed on the need for a “political solution” to resolving the war.

Hours after Xi and Putin met, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that China couldn’t “have its cake and eat it too” with regard to the West and Moscow.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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