China's leader Xi Jinping will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and other "regional topics" while at a summit in Uzbekistan, according to the Russian government.
It will be President Xi's first trip overseas since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Xi is seeking a historic third term as China's leader.
On Wednesday, the BBC reported that Xi made his first international stop in Kazakhstan for the first leg of his trip. After, he traveled to Uzbekistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, where he was scheduled to meet with Russia's leader.
Putin, who faces rock-bottom approval ratings from the West, needs allies as Russian troops suffered their worst losses in their invasion of Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukraine has recently been able to recapture more than 2,300 square miles of its territory from Russian occupying troops, CNN reported.
Observers have taken note that even among Putin supporters in Russia, criticism has been growing.
Velina Tchakarova, director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy in Vienna, said, “Russia relies on China to demonstrate to the world that their strong bond is a symbol of unsuccessful international isolation, despite the severe Western sanctions.”
Tchakarova said, “China’s backing helps Moscow disseminate Russian narratives, such as blaming EU sanctions for the food crisis, blaming NATO for the start of the war. It creates a common denominator: dissatisfaction with the US-led West and the positive case for closer ties to China.”
The invasion of Ukraine has spiraled into a global situation as many experts noted, it was Putin who believed at the beginning of the invasion that it might all be over in a couple of days, CNN noted. That has not been the case.