Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow to meet his "friend" Vladimir Putin was not just a summit of meetings in carpeted palace offices. There have also been gestures and messages. With the former, the Russian president has shown respect for his guest, some admiration and above all the need for his support at a time when Western sanctions are trying to isolate Russia. Among the messages, the hottest current one: Putin accepts China's peace plan for Ukraine. But whether it can be applied depends on the West and Kyiv, he remarked.
After the informal day on Monday, his second day in Moscow Xi was solemnly received by Putin in the St. George's Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace.
The Chinese president went up to the second floor by a carpeted staircase and was flanked by an honor guard, the same one that received him on Monday at the Vnúkovo-2 airport.
As a Russian state television camera followed the Chinese leader's footsteps, another camera showed Putin walking to the center of the hall to greet his guest with a loud hug. Under the flags of Russia and China, the national anthems played. Everything was ready to begin the most formal part of this summit in the capital of Russia.
China is a friend that until a few years ago caused a certain fear, since in Moscow it was feared that in a possible alliance Russia would always be dependent on the economic potential of its Asian neighbor. Perhaps because of the circumstances, it is now an object of admiration. On Monday, during the round of mutual praise, Putin revealed to Xi a certain envy of the development achieved. This potential has served in the last year for China to become a safe market for the oil and gas that the countries of the European Union have stopped buying. "Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects", assured Putin.
From Beijing comes, moreover, the last attempt to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The Chinese proposal, presented last month in the form of 12 points, "can be taken as a basis for a peaceful resolution", said the Russian president in the statements he offered at the end of the talks, in the Malaquita room , where several cooperation agreements between Moscow and Beijing were also signed.
On his side, Xi said that his country maintains an "objective and impartial" position on the Ukrainian crisis, guided by the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. The Chinese president said his country "advocates for peace and dialogue," broken in the spring of 2022 when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mediated between Russia and Ukraine.
According to Putin, many of the provisions of the plan presented by Beijing "are in accordance with Russian approaches". But he pointed out that "it will serve as a basis for a solution when the West and Kyiv are ready for it, although at the moment we do not see this will on their part".
In its peace plan, China defends Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of peace negotiations. But he also advocates taking into account Russia's security concerns in the face of NATO's advance near its borders.
Russia and China call for "an end to all steps that contribute to the escalation of tension and the prolongation of hostilities," the two countries said in a joint statement. Russia demands that the United States and European countries stop sending weapons to Ukraine. China has been opposed to sanctions on the sidelines of the UN.
In the same statement, they say that a nuclear war, in which "there can be no winner", must "never" take place.
Although Ukraine has avoided criticizing China, its president Volodymyr Zelensky considers the initiative unfeasible, as it does not envisage the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.
But Kyiv does not want to miss the opportunity to convince Beijing. On Monday, he called on Xi to use his influence to force Russia to end its "war of aggression." In addition, Zelenskiy hopes to speak via video conference with Xi Jinping, which could take place after the Chinese leader leaves Moscow today.