COLOMBO (News1st): Three days after being accused by an international tribunal of war crimes in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is to welcome his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping when he arrives in Moscow on Monday (20).
The Chinese President will be the first world leader to shake Putin's hand since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia since the start of the war.
The Kremlin said the action taken by the ICC was outrageous but legally void.
Neither Moscow nor Beijing are members of the ICC.
During this visit to Russia, Xi Jinping and Putin would be discussing issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and China, as well as exchanging views “in the context of deepening Russian-Chinese cooperation in the international arena”, the Kremlin added.
The two leaders will also sign “important” bilateral documents.
On Thursday, China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, saying China hoped “Ukraine and Russia will retain hope for dialogue and negotiation and not close the door to a political solution, no matter how difficult and challenging it may be”, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
Writing an article published by the People's Daily Newspaper in China, the Russian president described Xi's visit as a "landmark event" that "reaffirms the special nature of the Russia-China partnership".
In his article, Putin also described the President of China as his "good old friend".
Xi Jinping's visit is his first visit to Russia since Putin launched his full invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Russian President visited the occupied port city of Mariupol yesterday (19) , his first trip to Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September, in a show of defiance after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges.
Mariupol became a worldwide symbol of resistance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a steel mill there for nearly three months before Moscow finally took control of it in May.
Much of the city was pounded to rubble by Russian shelling.
The surprise trip to Mariupol also came ahead of the planned visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping today, expected to provide a major diplomatic boost to Putin in his confrontation with the West.