China’s top diplomat is heading to Russia for security talks on Monday, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, potentially laying the groundwork for a possible landmark visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing next month as the two nations draw closer on the international stage amid increasingly strained relations with the West.
Wang’s visit comes at the invitation of the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, according to a brief statement from China’s foreign ministry.
The foreign ministry said Wang, who leads both China’s foreign ministry and the ruling Communist Party’s division of foreign affairs, will undertake “strategic security consultation[s]” as part of the visit.
The trip, which will run Monday to Thursday, is also expected to lay the groundwork for a possible visit by Putin to China in October.
Russia’s foreign ministry last week said Wang will also meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.
The meeting will cover a “wide range” of issues including “top-level and high-level contacts” and efforts to “strengthen collaboration on the international scene.”
The diplomats will also have a “detailed” discussion on “issues related to a settlement in Ukraine” and security in the Asia Pacific region, Moscow said.
Putin last visited China for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February 2022 when he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping celebrated a “no limits” partnership between Moscow and Beijing. This visit came shortly before the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine and China denied asking Russia to delay its launch until after the Games. Xi invited Putin to visit for the third Belt and Road Forum in October and Putin has reportedly accepted. The visit will be watched closely by observers around the world, particularly with the two countries moving to present an alternative to Western hegemony—such as leading the expansion of the BRICS group—and Beijing positioning itself as a neutral party over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
What To Watch For
Putin has not knowingly left Russia since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for illegally deporting children from Ukraine in March and this visit could therefore be his first foreign trip since then. Members of the court—which do not include China—are obligated to arrest Putin and send him to the Hague for trial should he enter their jurisdiction.