Saturday, April 20

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Live Updates: Putin, Xi Promise “No Limits” For Russia-China Ties

Credit…Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Chinese state media covered Friday’s meeting between the top leaders of Russia and China in minute, sometimes sycophantic detail as a sign of what they described as the unbreakable unity between the countries.

Prior to the arrival of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the Chinese media was covered with reports of a written interview Mr. Putin gave a day earlier to a state media outlet. The interview highlighted not only Putin’s remarks on economic and political cooperation between Russia and China, but also his advice to ice hockey fans.

When Putin arrived in Beijing, China Central Television, the state broadcaster, documented his every move, from the time his plane landed to the time his motorcade made its way to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where China’s leader Xi Jinping was waiting for him to greet him.

“Beijing time, February 4 at 3:10 pm, Putin’s motorcade has arrived,” said a CCTV presenter. “The meeting between the Chinese and Russian leaders is about to officially start.”

Another reporter from the state broadcaster stood on the tarmac as the plane touched down, holding a stuffed polar bear and a stuffed panda. “I especially brought two little friends to wait for the plane with me,” he said, explaining that they were the mascots for the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia and the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

“Today, these two friends reunited on this special day extend their formal friendship of ice and snow,” he added.

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Another CCTV video, released Friday night, featured a montage of Putin and Xi over the years: clinking champagne glasses, riding a speedboat, staring at a panda, set to a rising orchestral music soundtrack. .

On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, many users welcomed Putin and said they looked forward to closer ties between China and Russia, especially given tensions with the United States. A hashtag about Putin’s first trip abroad this year trended on Friday and had been viewed 17 million times.

Still, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, warned against exaggerating the importance of the meeting. He said that while ties between the countries were deepening, they had yet to reach a formal alliance. Neither country had pledged military support to the other in the event of a conflict in Ukraine or Taiwan, he added.

As a result, each leader would continue to make their own strategic calculations largely independent of the other, he said.

“China, of course, does not want to see a war in Ukraine, and especially does not want to see tensions rise during the Olympics,” Professor Shi said. But “in Putin’s calculations, he is thinking of Ukraine, NATO, America’s allies in Eastern Europe and the United States itself. China is behind.”

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