Putin to attend Winter Olympics, meet Xi

Kremlin says the leaders will discuss the ongoing crisis with Ukraine and Russia’s security concerns

Updated - January 29, 2022 11:38 am IST

Published - January 28, 2022 10:34 pm IST - Hong Kong

 Russian President VladimirPutin, right,andChinese PresidentXiJinping, in this file photo.

Russian President VladimirPutin, right,andChinese PresidentXiJinping, in this file photo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, and five Presidents from Central Asia will be among the around two dozen world leaders heading to Beijing next week for the opening of the Winter Olympics, China announced on Friday.

During the visit, Mr. Putin will discuss the ongoing crisis with Ukraine with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Kremlin said the two leaders will spend a “lot of time” discussing the security situation in Europe.

“I think this time, of course, a lot of time will be spent on an exchange of views on international issues, including strategic stability in Europe, security guarantees for Russia, security in Europe and Russia’s dialogue with the United States and NATO, and regional problems,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Reuters.

China, which has close relations with Russia but has been largely silent on the crisis in Ukraine amid a build-up of Russian forces along its borders, on Thursday called on the U.S. to address Russia’s “legitimate concerns” over NATO’s security presence, in what was its strongest statement of support for Russia so far.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said it was “firmly opposed” to actions that increase tensions, when asked about the U.S. providing $200 million in military assistance to Ukraine.

“Creating tensions does no good to easing the Ukrainian crisis, but only adds more uncertainties to the region and the whole world. China is firmly opposed to this,” spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. “Under the current circumstances, we call on all relevant parties to ease the tension as much as possible, avoid escalation of the situation, stop stirring up troubles and inciting opposition and confrontation.”

Two dozen leaders

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday confirmed that Mr. Putin will be among more than two dozen world leaders attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4.

While the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia have announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the games — their athletes will, however, be participating — Beijing has invited a host of other countries to the opening.

Among the leaders attending are Mr. Putin, President Halimah Yacob of Singapore, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. Presidents of five Central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — will also attend. The five leaders had been scheduled to attend the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi this week but the visit did not take place, citing the pandemic.

Asked if India, which has been invited to the opening ceremony, would have diplomatic presence there, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India had “one Indian athlete who has qualified for the Winter Olympics”. “As regards who else will be present,” he said, “I don’t have any information on that.”

Cooperation with Pak.

The Pakistan Prime Minister is expected to discuss investments from China and speeding up the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, officials in Islamabad said earlier this month.

China on Friday said it would boost cooperation with Pakistan in launching satellites and developing its space programme. A new white paper on China’s space activities said Beijing will “give priority to developing communications satellites for Pakistan and to cooperating on the construction of the Pakistan Space Centre”.

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