11 July 2024

Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet next week during a regional summit in Uzbekistan, a Russian diplomat said Wednesday, as the Chinese leader makes his first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic.

“In less than 10 days our leaders will meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit” in Samarkand, the Russian ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, told Russian agencies.

“We are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting between our two leaders and are working on a detailed agenda with our Chinese partners,” Denisov said, adding that the leaders “have a lot to talk about both on bilateral issues and international problems”.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is made up of China, Russia, four central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), India and Pakistan.

It will be holding its next summit on September 15 and 16 in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, an ancient stop on the Silk Road.

Slapped with unprecedented Western sanctions since it launched a military offensive in Ukraine, Russia has sought to bolster ties with Asian countries, particularly China.

Beijing has not condemned Moscow’s interventions in Ukraine and provided diplomatic cover by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv, heightening tensions between China and the West.

Putin and Xi last met in early February in Beijing before the Winter Olympic Games, days before Putin sent troops into Ukraine.