Putin says 'grateful' to China for Ukraine peace 'initiatives'

Putin was speaking at a press conference in Beijing alongside Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a day after he said his troops were advancing on "all fronts" in Ukraine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo prior to their talks in Beijing, China, on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo prior to their talks in Beijing, China, on Thursday, May 16, 2024.AP photo

BEIJING: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he was "grateful" to Beijing for trying to find a solution to the war in Ukraine and hailed growing economic ties with China.

Putin was speaking at a press conference in Beijing alongside Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a day after he said his troops were advancing on "all fronts" in Ukraine.

"I will inform the President of the People's Republic of China about the situation surrounding the Ukraine crisis. We are grateful to our Chinese friends and colleagues for the initiatives they are putting forward to resolve this problem," Putin said.

Moscow says it is open to talks with Ukraine to end the war, but insists that Kyiv must accept the situation on the ground -- namely Russia's claim to have annexed the Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.

China positions itself as a neutral party in the conflict, which it has never condemned and in which it has sought to frame itself as a mediator.

Western countries say vague peace proposals that Beijing issued last year would enable Russia to hold onto much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo prior to their talks in Beijing, China, on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
Putin, Xi sign statement deepening partnership between Russia and China

In Beijing, Putin also appeared to criticise Western-led security alliances in the Asia-Pacific region -- a point of mutual concern for both Moscow and Beijing.

He said "closed military-political alliances" in the region were "very harmful" and "counterproductive."

China has become Russia's most important political and economic partner since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Putin on Thursday hailed those growing ties, despite what he implied were Western attempts to drive a wedge between the two countries.

He said the share of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan had exceeded 90 percent.

"And it continues to grow, meaning mutual trade and investment is reliably protected from the influence of third countries," the Russian leader added.

Chinese exports to Russia have dipped recently, following threats from the United States that Chinese companies and banks could be targeted if they are deemed to be helping Russia obtain sanctioned goods.

Russian media has reported that a number of Chinese banks have halted some transactions with Russian companies amid the fears.

Without referencing those problems, Putin said Russian and Chinese banks and payment institutions would strengthen their contacts and cooperation.

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