Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin, Mr Putin’s aide, said his country’s bilateral ties with China stood to benefit and strengthened in the face of pressure from the West.
A large number of sanctions from the West that have been imposed on Russia ever since it invaded Ukraine have put a strain on its economy and led the former Soviet Union to increasingly establish ties with China – that has its own strained ties and disputes with Western countries like the US.
Relations between the two countries are “at an unprecedented high level”, influenced by the “increased turbulence in the international arena and the pattern of sensational pressure from the collective West”, he said.
This was further bolstered by Mr Xi, who told Mr Mishustin that Beijing is willing to continue to support “core interests” it shares with Moscow, reported Chinese state-run media CCTV.
Mr Xi said China and Russia should further upgrade economic, trade and investment cooperation and expand cooperation in energy, reported state media on Wednesday.
Moscow doubled down on its diplomatic position against the West and accused it of perceiving the two military powers as an “existential threat”.
The comments come just days after the richest Western countries gathered for a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima and intensified pressure on Russia and China.
On Wednesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov joined in and said the West saw Russia and China as “adversaries” against the West’s “dominance”.
“As evidenced by statements made at the recently concluded G7 summit in Japan, the West views Russia and China as strategic adversaries posing almost an existential threat to its dominance,” Mr Lavrov said.
The visit by the Russian prime minister comes at a critical point in the Kremlin’s ties with its Asian ally, whom it sought to capitalise on for diplomatic and economic support amid growing isolation over Ukraine.
Mr Mishustin sought to sidestep the conflict in his meeting and emphasised on Russia’s role as a provider of oil and gas to China and their bonds formed as initial allies among communist nations.
“The peoples of Russia and China cherish their history, rich culture and traditions. We support the further development of our culture, exchanges and communication,” he said.
The opening remarks of Mr Mishustin’s meeting with Li Qiang did not mention anything about the 15-month-old war, which has not been condemned by China.
He focused instead on economic co-operation between the neighbours that have partnered to challenge the US in global affairs.
Barring its criticism of the West for provoking Russia, China has maintained a neutral position on the continuing invasion and offered to broker an end to the conflict. The Xi regime has been strongly supportive of its diplomatic and trade ties with Russia in opposition to sanctions against it.