Putin hails 'model' Russia-China relations in Xi call

AFP , Wednesday 15 Dec 2021

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed Russia's "model" relations with China in a call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and confirmed he would attend Beijing's Olympics, as both countries face increasing criticism from the West.

Russia/ China
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands during a signing ceremony in Beijing on Friday,10 december,2021. AFP

The video call came days after G7 foreign ministers discussed Moscow's sabre-rattling against Ukraine and Beijing's crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

US President Joe Biden warned Putin in a video call last week against invading Ukraine.

"In February we will finally be able to meet in person in Beijing," Putin said in a national television broadcast of the conversation after he said he would attend the Games, calling Xi his "dear friend".

The United States, Britain, Canada and Australia are not sending political representatives to the Olympics over China's abuse of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Beijing and Moscow denounced the diplomatic boycott and Putin on Wednesday said both leaders opposed "any attempt to politicise sport and the Olympic movement", a criticism Russia has repeatedly levelled at the West.

Russia was found to have used a state-backed doping programme at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and was banned from international competitions afterwards.

Russian athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals -- without the Russian flag or anthem -- if they can prove their doping record is clean.

Russian officials including Putin are banned from attending international competitions unless invited by the head of state of the host country. Xi has invited Putin to attend.

Both China and Russia have seen their relationship with Western nations deteriorate in recent years and have sought to project a more unified front.

On Wednesday, Putin told Xi that "a new model of cooperation has been formed between our countries" that includes a "determination to turn our common border into a belt of eternal peace and good-neighbourliness".

"I consider these relations to be a real model for inter-state cooperation in the 21st century," the Russian leader said.

The US and its allies have for weeks accused Russia of planning an invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine, warning of massive coordinated sanctions should Putin launch an attack. Russia rejects the allegations.

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