Russian media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Moscow Kremlin on Sunday for four and a half hours of one-on-one talks.
The discussions, described as “informal” by Russia’s state media agency RIA Novosti, were held from roughly 4:30pm to 9:00pm, and the two leaders are set to meet again at the Grand Kremlin Palace for a formal meeting with their delegations this afternoon. Tuesday.
Putin greeted Xi by calling him a “dear friend” and praising China’s recently released 12-point peace plan for the war in Ukraine, which was summarily rejected by US officials.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the “essential element” of any peace proposal “must be upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Any plan that does not prioritize this critical principle is a stalling tactic at best, or seeks only to facilitate an unfair outcome that is not constructive diplomacy,” Blinken told a news conference. “A call for a cease-fire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively support the ratification of the Russian invasion.”
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The meeting also comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over allegations of deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia during the 13-month-long invasion.
President Biden said over the weekend that he believes the memo is “justified” and that Putin has “clearly committed war crimes.” Blinken said on Monday that Xi’s visit “suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine.”
Russia, China and the United States do not recognize the International Criminal Court.
U.S. officials will be watching closely to see if China takes a step forward in their partnership with Russia by sending weapons to the country for deployment in Ukraine.
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China has so far refused to send weapons to Russia, but House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said China might be incentivized to do so as the war drags on.
“Putin is running out of ammunition, and he’s begged Iran for their drones. He’s begged North Korea for artillery shells. And now he’s really coming up to President Xi and saying, ‘Hey, I gotta win this thing. I need you help.'” And I think President Xi looks at Ukraine and thinks, ‘You know, Russia has to win this if I’m going to look at Taiwan,'” McCall, R-Texas, told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Monday.
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