ARKANSAS, Oct 17 (Future Headlines)- Russian President Vladimir Putin embarked on a highly anticipated trip to Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. This visit is closely watched as it aims to showcase the profound mutual trust and a “no-limits” partnership between China and its vast neighbor, Russia. Putin’s entourage touched down at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday morning in what marks the Kremlin chief’s first official trip outside the former Soviet Union in 2023.

Putin has limited his international travel since March following the issuance of an ICC arrest warrant by the Hague-based court. The warrant accused Putin of unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine. As a result of the ICC’s move, the court’s 123 member states are obliged to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial should he set foot on their territory. Notably, neither China nor Kyrgyzstan, the destinations of his recent trips, are members of the ICC, which was established to prosecute war crimes.

Xi Jinping had last met his “dear friend” Putin in Moscow just days after the ICC issued the warrant. During that visit, Xi extended an invitation to Putin to attend the third Belt and Road forum in Beijing. This international cooperation forum is championed by the Chinese leader and emphasizes infrastructure development and connectivity. Putin’s official meeting with Xi Jinping was scheduled for Wednesday.

China has vehemently defended its partnership with Russia amid Western criticism, particularly as the conflict in Ukraine shows no signs of abating. Beijing insists that its relations with Moscow do not infringe upon international norms, asserting that China has the right to collaborate with any country it chooses. The collaboration between China and Russia intensified in February 2022, just before Putin deployed a substantial number of troops into Ukraine. The two nations declared a “no-limits” partnership at the time.

Putin’s visit coincides with the Belt and Road Forum, which spans several days. This forum revolves around the Belt and Road Initiative, a vast plan initiated by Xi Jinping a decade ago. The initiative seeks to build global infrastructure and energy networks connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe through both overland and maritime routes.

The Belt and Road Initiative has received commendation from Putin, who views it as a platform for international cooperation. He has emphasized that the key advantage of China’s cooperation concept lies in not imposing anything on others. This differentiates it from projects pursued by countries with a colonialist undertone.

Russia has solidified its energy partnerships with China, especially since the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict. Moscow exports approximately 2.0 million barrels of oil per day to China, accounting for over a third of its total crude oil exports. Furthermore, Russia aims to construct a second natural gas pipeline to China, strengthening their economic collaboration.

  • No New Energy Deals Expected

Despite the presence of leaders from Russia’s oil and gas giants Rosneft and Gazprom in Putin’s traveling delegation, it is unlikely that new energy agreements will be reached during this visit. The trip is characterized by the Kremlin as not a “full-fledged bilateral” visit but rather one made on the sidelines of an international conference.

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing underscores the strength of the China-Russia partnership, which remains steadfast in the face of international scrutiny. As Putin and Xi Jinping meet to discuss issues of mutual importance, their “no-limits” partnership and ongoing collaboration continue to shape regional dynamics. The Belt and Road Initiative stands as a testament to China’s commitment to international cooperation, and Russia’s alignment with this initiative demonstrates their shared commitment to connectivity and infrastructure development. In an evolving global landscape, China and Russia’s cooperation remains an influential and strategic force.

Editing by Sarah White