Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to travel to Russia to meet with his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said, which would be sooner than previously expected.
Plans for a visit come as China has been offering to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with scepticism in the West given China’s diplomatic support for Russia.
Explained | Why China’s stand on Russia and Ukraine is raising concerns
Russia’s Tass news agency reported on Jan. 30 that Mr. Putin had invited Mr. Xi to visit in the spring. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that a visit to Moscow could take place in April or early May.
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of Mr. Xi going to Moscow and the Kremlin declined to comment.
No other details were immediately available.
The sources briefed on the matter declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.
Explained | Locating China in the Russia-Ukraine war
Last month, Mr. Putin hosted China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on a visit to Moscow and signalled that Mr. Xi would travel to Russia.
China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership in February of 2022, when Mr. Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, and the two sides have continued to reaffirm the strength of their ties.
Mr. Xi has met Mr. Putin in person 39 times since becoming President, most recently in September during a summit in central Asia.
On March 13, Mr. Xi wrapped up the annual session of China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress, during which he was unanimously confirmed in a precedent-breaking third term as President.