Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing on Friday for the Winter Olympics in 2022, bringing with him an agreement to enhance natural gas supplies to China amid escalating tensions with the United States and other Western countries.
According to a simulcast of their conversations shown in Moscow, Putin informed Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing that Russia has prepared a new agreement to provide China with an additional 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas. The talks took place in Beijing.
Because of Russia’s stalemate with the West over Ukraine and other issues, the country has been building ties with China, which is the world’s largest energy user.
According to China’s state broadcaster CCTV, Putin had arrived in the Chinese capital, and that he had expressed objection to the “politicization” of the Olympic Games, as did China.
According to CCTV footage, a plane was seen flying with the Russian and Chinese flags flying overhead. Jets flying the flags of Mongolia and Serbia landed right next to it. Mongolian Prime Minister L Oyun-Erdene and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic are also set to attend the inaugural ceremony, which will take place later on Friday.
It had been reported earlier in the day that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as well as the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had arrived at the airport.
Due to China’s human rights record, the United States and some of its allies have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which will take place in August. China denies any wrongdoing.
Putin and Xi were set to have lunch together on Friday and, according to the Kremlin, might sign more than 15 agreements, with new accords in the natural gas sector being negotiated.
As if the Olympics weren’t already overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and the need to hold them in a strictly closed loop, the fear of a Russian invasion of Ukraine has just added to the tensions.
The positions of Russia and China on Ukraine were coordinated during a meeting between their foreign ministers, Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov, which took place in Beijing on Thursday, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
After receiving a warning from the United States, Chinese companies were cautioned that they would suffer repercussions if they attempted to circumvent export controls set by Moscow in the event that Russia invaded Ukraine.
“We have an array of tools that we can deploy if we see foreign companies, including those in China, doing their best to backfill U.S. export control actions, to evade them, or to get around them,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the United States State Department, during a regular news briefing on Tuesday.
Prior to Lavrov’s visit, Beijing had not hosted any foreign political guests for nearly two years as part of its efforts to keep the coronavirus at bay.
Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns of an invasion, which Russia has categorically denied preparing. Russia has asked NATO to ban Ukraine from joining and to withdraw from eastern Europe in order to protect its interests.