According to Russia’s state-run news agency Tass, Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in person on his first overseas trip since the pandemic.

The two leaders will meet for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan.

Russian Ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, told reporters on Wednesday, “We are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda, which we are now, in fact, working on with our Chinese partners.”

The face-to-face meeting marks the importance of the Russian relationship with Beijing as the Chinese regime has been under criticism for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The most recent meeting between Xi and Putin was in January in Beijing when Putin visited China for the Winter Olympics event. Many Western leaders boycotted the event in response to Beijing’s human rights records. 

At that meeting in Beijing, Xi and Putin declared a “no limit” partnership just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Xi-Putin meeting is set amid a series of Russian – Chinese diplomatic activities in recent weeks.

China is currently participating in the Vostok 2022 joint military exercises hosted by Russia in the Sea of Japan. China sends thousands of troops, aircraft, and warships to the event.

China’s number three leader Li Zhanshu attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Wednesday. Li, the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Russia since the invasion, is expected to meet Putin on Wednesday.

I said at the forum, “China is happy to see that under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economy has not been defeated by the harsh sanctions imposed by the US and other Western countries.” 

He added. “China still sees Russia as an important country for international investment and cooperation.”

China plays a key trading role for Russia, helping Moscow to fill the trade gap left by Western nations. 

According to Bloomberg, China is the biggest importer of Russia’s oil. In the second quarter, 81% of Russia’s new car imports were from China, while Xiaomi was the best-selling smartphone in Russia. 

Xi is expected to attend the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November. Putin and Joe Biden are also scheduled to participate in the event.

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