Russian President Putin is making a state visit to China this week

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. File. | Photo credit: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a two-day state visit to China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on May 14.

Putin will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his visit starting Thursday, the report said.

The Kremlin confirmed the trip in a statement, saying Putin would go at Xi’s invitation. It said this will be Putin’s first foreign trip since he was sworn in as president and began his fifth term in office.

China has politically supported Russia in the Ukraine conflict and has continued to export machine tools and other items seen as contributing to Russia’s war effort, without actually exporting weapons.

China is also an important export market for energy supplies, which keeps the Kremlin’s coffers full. China’s Foreign Ministry said Xi would talk to Putin about “cooperation in various areas of bilateral relations… as well as international and regional issues of common interest.”

China has tried to position itself as a neutral party in the conflict, but unlike the West has declared a borderless relationship with Russia. The sides have also held a series of joint military exercises and China has consistently opposed economic sanctions against Russia in response to its now two-year-old campaign of conquest against Ukraine.

The two continent-sized authoritarian states are increasingly at odds with democracies and NATO as they seek to gain influence in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

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