Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Beijing on Tuesday, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the latest display of strengthening Sino-Russian ties amid the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war and other geopolitical struggles.
China is not a state party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest in connection with alleged war crimes related to the Ukrainian conflict. Formerly a prolific world traveler, the China visit is Putin’s second trip abroad since the March court decision. He visited Kyrgyzstan last week.
Putin’s trip saw him attend the Belt and Road Forum. The ongoing event focuses on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s international development program through which it offers developing nations high interest loans for critical infrastructure projects and then seizes them if and when the debtor nation defaults.
The forum provided an opportunity for Putin to meet not just with Xi, whose country has proven a critical ally to Moscow amid the ongoing western sanctions, but with other world leaders, including one of the few remaining European figures with whom he maintains good relations, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“Meeting with President Putin in [Beijing]. Everyone in Europe is asking the same thing: can there be a ceasefire in Ukraine? It’s crucial for Europe, including Hungary, that the flood of refugees, sanctions and fighting should end!” he said.
While Hungary is a party to the ICC and a member of the European Union, the Orban government has refrained from leveling the same harsh criticisms of Moscow as its European contemporaries and has been critical of the Ukrainian government and its prospective NATO membership.
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