Ukraine strike hits Russian military personnel stationed at Donetsk vocational school

In June 2018, Putin and Xi Jinping reviewed the guard of honor in Beijing.
In June 2018, Putin and Xi Jinping reviewed the guard of honor in Beijing. (Greg Baker/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/FILE)

At the opening of the video conference on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Moscow next spring. He added that the two countries would increase cooperation between the militaries, noting that trade would grow despite “unfavorable market conditions”.

He said that the relationship between the two countries “is in the best period in history and has withstood all tests.” “We share the same view on the causes, processes and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape.”

Xi also delivered an opening speech, saying that “against the difficult international situation, China is ready to strengthen political cooperation with Russia” and become a “global partner,” according to a Russian state media translation of the broadcast.

Moscow and Beijing have grown closer in recent years, with Xi and Putin announcing an “unrestricted” partnership between the two countries weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

China has since refused to condemn the aggression, instead repeatedly blaming NATO and the United States for the conflict – and remains one of Russia’s main backers as it becomes increasingly isolated on the global stage.

But after more than 10 months of grinding, the world looks very different — and the dynamic between the two sides has changed accordingly, experts say.

Instead of achieving the expected quick fix, Putin’s invasion has been hobbled by numerous setbacks on the battlefield, including a lack of basic equipment. Morale is low in parts of Russia, and many civilians face economic difficulties during the harsh winter.

On Thursday, Russia launched what Ukrainian officials said was one of the largest missile strikes since the war began in February, blasting villages and cities across Ukraine, damaging civilian infrastructure and killing at least three people.

Ukrainian officials have been warning for days that Russia is preparing an all-out attack on the power grid to end 2022, darkening Ukraine as Ukrainians try to ring in the New Year and celebrate the Christmas holiday. The country’s Orthodox Christians fell on January 7th.

“China longs for (the war) to end,” said Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.

“Xi Jinping will try to emphasize to Putin the importance of peace,” she added. “If Russia is impatient with the lack of progress on the battlefield, in China’s view the time is ripe for peace talks.”

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