On a visit to China on Monday, a top Russian security official stated that strengthening ties with Beijing is a key policy priority for the Kremlin.
The secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, defined the “strengthening of comprehensive partnership and strategic collaboration with Beijing as an unequivocal priority of Russia’s foreign policy.”
Patrushev is a close associate of Putin’s. During a meeting with Guo Shengkun, a key official in China’s Communist Party, he stated that “under the current circumstances, our countries must demonstrate even greater willingness for mutual support and partnership development.”
In a statement issued after the talks in Nanping, Patrushev’s office stated that the parties agreed to “expand information exchanges on countering extremism and foreign attempts to undermine constitutional order of both countries.” Chinese and Russian officials also emphasized the importance of expanding cybersecurity cooperation.
Putin visited Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan this week, their first meeting since Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in late February.
A Chinese government statement issued following the meeting did not mention Ukraine but said Xi promised “strong support” for Russia’s “core interests.”
The statement did not provide specifics, but Beijing uses “core interests” to refer to issues such as national sovereignty and the ruling Communist Party’s claim to Taiwan, over which it is willing to go to war.
Before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Xi’s government declared a “no-limits” friendship with Moscow and has failed to criticize Russia’s military operations. China and India have expanded their imports of Russian oil and gas, assisting Moscow in offsetting Western sanctions imposed in response to its activities in Ukraine.
During his meeting with Xi on Thursday, Putin thanked China’s president for taking a “balanced” approach to the Ukrainian crisis and said he was willing to hear Beijing’s “concerns” about the country.
Putin’s unusual mention of Chinese concerns came as the impact of unpredictable oil prices and economic uncertainty created by nearly seven months of fighting in Ukraine has caused China concern.
Xi and Putin met on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an eight-nation security partnership formed to counterbalance US influence that includes India, Pakistan, and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states.