Putin and Xi further their embrace to defy U.S.-led pressure

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin doubled down on their alliance against the West this week — accusing the United States and its allies of trying to block their nations’ rise during a two-day official visit to China by the Kremlin leader that ended Friday.

It was Putin’s first trip abroad since beginning a fifth term in office following a pro-forma election in March.

While the visit was timed to honor the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China and kickstart a year of Russian-Chinese cultural exchange, there was little question of the wider geopolitical drama at play.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Beijing has repeatedly provided Moscow diplomatic cover from Western condemnation — and an economic lifeline from unprecedented Western sanctions.

In turn, China has rebuffed U.S.-led charges it is empowering the Russian war machine, while benefiting from steep discounts on Russian energy and expanding Chinese exports into Russia.

Underlying it all is a shared view, that appears to be growing stronger by the day, that robust China-Russia ties are essential to pushing back against Western countries perceived as increasingly hostile to both nations.

Putin was accompanied by a delegation that included nearly all his senior cabinet members, military officials, and Russian industry leaders in energy, space and agriculture.

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