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Putin Meets China’s Defence Minister, Hails Military Ties

Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Li Shangfu comes less than a month after Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu in Moscow, with both men hailing the military cooperation between their two countries.

The meeting on Sunday came less than a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to Moscow.

Footage of the meeting showed Putin shaking hands with Li and then sitting down at a table. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was also present.

“We are working actively through our military departments, regularly exchange useful information, work together in the field of military-technical cooperation, and hold joint exercises,” Putin said in comments opening the meeting.

The exercises, he added, had been held in the Far East as well as Europe and involved ground, naval and air forces.

“Undoubtedly, this is another crucial area that strengthens the extremely trusting, strategic nature of our relations,” the Russian president said.

Russia and China, which declared a “no-limits” partnership, have moved to further strengthen their economic, political and military ties since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

China has refused to criticise Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and blames the United States and NATO for provoking Moscow. It has also sought to portray itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, but Washington has accused Beijing of mulling arms exports to Moscow – claims it has denied.

Li’s trip to Russia – which will last until April 19 – is the first trip the defence minister has made to another country since he was appointed last month.

“We have very strong ties. They surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War era … They are very stable,” he said in translated remarks broadcast on Russian TV.

He added that Russia-China ties have “already entered a new era”.

“This is my first overseas visit since taking over as China’s defence minister. I specifically chose Russia for this in order to emphasise the special nature and strategic importance of our bilateral ties,” Li said.

The defence minister also said that China was willing to work with Russia to “further strengthen strategic communication between the two militaries”, according to a readout of the meeting published by China’s defence ministry.

Beijing had announced Li’s visit to Moscow last week, saying he would meet defence officials, but made no mention of a meeting with Putin.

Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 over the purchase of combat aircraft and equipment from Russia’s main arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

Source: Aljazeera