President Xi Jinping has visited China for the first time since the corona epidemic. He arrived in Central Asia on Wednesday to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. He had a pre-arranged meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the conference.

Vladimir Putin addressed Xi Jinping on Thursday, saying he understood Xi Jinping’s questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine. But he was also praised for the ‘balanced’ stance he took on the conflict.

According to Reuters, Xi called Putin his ‘old friend’ in their first face-to-face meeting since the war. Putin told Xi that US efforts to create a unipolar world will fail. We highly appreciate the balanced stance of our Chinese friends on the Ukraine crisis. We understand your questions and concerns on this matter. We will definitely explain our position in today’s meeting.’

China has refrained from condemning Russia’s operation against Ukraine or calling it an ‘aggression’ in line with the Kremlin. Russia has always vehemently called the war a ‘special military operation’.

Xi and Putin last met in person a few weeks before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. At the time they declared ‘unlimited’ friendship and promised further cooperation against the West.

Still, Beijing is concerned about the impact on the global economy and has been careful not to provide material aid to Russia. Because Western sanctions may come to China’s own economy.

(September 15)