Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday hailed a close relationship that they described as “enjoying the best period in their history” and committed to deepening strategic ties amid their respective tensions with the West.
“In the context of growing geopolitical tensions, the importance of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership as a stability factor is growing,” Mr. Putin told Mr. Xi in a video call on Friday, according to a Kremlin readout. “Our relations have passed all the tests, demonstrating their maturity and stability, and they continue to grow dynamically. As both of us pointed out, our current relations are enjoying the best period in their history and can be regarded as a model of cooperation between major powers in the 21st century.”
The video call ahead of the New Year has become a tradition between the leaders, and the latest call came even as Russian forces continued a missile bombardment of Ukraine.
Both discussed Ukraine, and Mr. Xi “stressed that China has noted Russia’s statement that it has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations and China commends that,” the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said.
Without naming the U.S., Mr. Xi said “facts have repeatedly proven that containment and suppression is unpopular, and sanction and interference is doomed to fail.”
Mr. Putin also criticised Western sanctions. He said “despite the unfavourable external situation, the illegitimate restrictions and patent blackmail on the part of certain Western countries, Russia and China have achieved record high growth rates in mutual trade” which rose 25% this year and was on track to meet a $200 billion target by 2024.
“In 2022, Russia became one of the leaders in oil exports to China,” he said. “Russia holds second place in terms of pipeline gas supplies to China, and fourth in terms of LNG exports. By December 1, Russia supplied to China 13.8 billion cubic metres of gas along the eastern route, and in December, supplies exceeded daily contractual targets by 18%. Next year, we will increase supplies even more.”
Mr. Putin highlighted infrastructure projects across a once disputed border as a reflection of close ties, noting the construction of permanent bridges across the Amur River, with the Blagoveshchensk-Heihe automobile bridge opened on June 10 and the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang railway bridge launched on November 16 this year.
Mr. Xi in his comments to Mr. Putin warned of “a Cold War mentality, provoking division and antagonism, and stoking confrontation between blocs”, and said China “stands ready to join hands with Russia and all other progressive forces around the world who oppose hegemony and power politics.” He added that China “will work with Russia to actively advance BRICS membership expansion to bolster the strength of BRICS countries”.