China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Russia on Monday for a four-day trip during which the two countries are expected to pledge deeper mutual political trust, as reported by the news agency Reuters. This visit comes ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s likely visit to Beijing in October. Wang, who heads the foreign affairs office of the ruling Communist Party, will meet Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev for annual security talks, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Last week, the Russian foreign ministry said that the diplomat’s talks with counterpart Sergei Lavrov will cover a “wide range of issues” including “contacts at higher and the highest levels”. Wang is also likely to lay the groundwork for Putin’s visit to China for the third Belt and Road Forum after an invitation by President Xi Jinping during a high-profile visit to Moscow in March, as per Reuters.
Putin took part in China’s first two Belt and Road Forums in 2017 and 2019. But he is not known to have travelled abroad after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him for illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The warrant, issued just days before Xi visited Russia, obligates the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to the Hague for trial if he enters their territory.
However, China is not a party to the Rome Statute that led to the establishment of the ICC in 2002. Last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the visit would also see a detailed exchange of views on issues including Ukraine.
Earlier in February, Wang visited Russia on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which alarmed the United States, which accused the two nations at the time of sharing a vision in which “borders could be redrawn by force”. Ahead of the visit, Wang travelled to Malta for hours of “constructive” talks with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, as per Reuters.
The weekend talks were the latest in a series of high-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials that could lay the foundation for a meeting this year between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden. On Sept. 1, Putin said he expected to meet Xi soon but did not explicitly confirm that he would travel to China again.