(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin praised ties between the Russian and Chinese militaries, underscoring Moscow and Beijing’s strategic relationship as he met with China’s defense minister on Sunday.
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Putin highlighted the exchange of intelligence and joint maneuvers in the Far East and Europe during talks with Li Shangfu, the Interfax news service reported.
Li told Putin that China was willing to “further strengthen strategic communication between the two militaries” and boost “multilateral coordination and cooperation,” state broadcaster China Central Television reported.
Beijing has become Russia’s biggest supporter since the invasion of Ukraine last year, and the visit is the first by a Chinese defense minister since the war began.
Li’s visit follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Moscow in March. Putin said at the time that Russia was ready to discuss Beijing’s blueprint for ending the fighting in Ukraine, though no progress has been made.
Li is also due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu and will visit Russian military institutions as part of the trip, China Central Television reported Friday.
The US has warned China against providing lethal aid to Moscow. Beijing probably approved of its firms providing Russia non-lethal, “dual-use” support for the war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in February. Beijing later said it never sells arms to parties involved in a conflict.
–With assistance from Phila Siu.
(Updates with Li remarks as reported by CCTV.)
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