(Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to travel to Russia to meet his counterpart Vladimir Putin as early as next week, people familiar with the matter said, a date sooner than previously expected.
Plans for the visit come as China has offered to broker peace in Ukraine, an effort that has been met with skepticism in the West given Beijing’s diplomatic support for Russia.
Putin said last month that a visit by Xi had been agreed, although the Kremlin chief did not set a date for a possible visit. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the Moscow visit could take place in April or early May.
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of Xi going to Moscow.
When asked about the Reuters report, the Kremlin said it had nothing to say on the matter.
“As a rule, announcements of official foreign visits are coordinated simultaneously, by mutual agreement of the parties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
“When there is such a willingness, we will let you know.”
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No other details were immediately available.
The sources familiar with the matter declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Last month, Putin hosted China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on a visit to Moscow. One source said that Wang’s visit to Moscow was to help prepare for Xi’s visit.
China and Russia entered into a “borderless” partnership in February of 2022, when Putin was visiting Beijing for the Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. The two sides continued to emphasize the strength of their relations.
Xi has met Putin in person 39 times since becoming president, most recently in September during a summit in Central Asia.
On Monday, Xi concluded the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, during which he was unanimously confirmed in a precedent-breaking third term.
reporting by newsrooms in Hong Kong, Beijing and Moscow; Editing by Robert Purcell, Guy Faulconbridge
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