China’s Xi is ready to satisfy Russia’s Putin just about on Wednesday

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ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 6, 2019: China’s Persident Xi Jinping (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands at a ceremony at St. Petersburg University in which Xi Jinping was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Petersburg University .

Alexei Nikolsky | TASS | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet virtually with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

The two heads of state and government last met at the end of June, also via video link. The meeting takes place as mounting tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border have attracted international attention.

The US and other Group Seven leaders issued a statement on Sunday condemning “Russia’s military build-up and aggressive rhetoric against Ukraine”. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom are part of the bloc of large economies.

China is not part of the G-7, but the Asian giant was the focus of the group’s discussions at a weekend meeting, Reuters reported, citing officials.

China, which shares a long border with Russia, has focused much of its bilateral relations on trade, particularly in the energy sector. Amid a coal shortage this year, China bought significant quantities of coal and other fuels from its northern neighbor this year.

Beijing’s position on Ukraine is less clear. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi on the phone in July.

In a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden last week, Putin said Washington should not allow Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in exchange for assurances that Russian troops would not launch an attack.

Biden said Washington would not accept such a request.

An attack on a member of NATO – a powerful military alliance – is considered an attack on all member countries. Ukraine had wanted to join the alliance since 2002, but Russia disagreed on the grounds that such a move would pose a direct threat to its borders.

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