| 19 June 2024, Wednesday |

China sends top envoy Wang Yi to Russia for security talks

Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, is in Russia for security talks as Moscow strives to maintain support for its assault on Ukraine.

Beijing, a strong friend of Moscow, is accused of covertly assisting Russia throughout the conflict, which it denies.

His visit comes after Vladimir Putin met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, raising concerns in the US that they may sign a weapons agreement.

According to Russian media, Mr Wang’s visit will pave the way for Mr Putin to make a historic visit to Beijing soon.

Mr Putin stated earlier this month that he intended to see Chinese President Xi Jinping, but did not specify when.

Some analysts anticipate he will attend the Belt and Road Forum next month.

He has not travelled abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March over war crimes in Ukraine. Mr Putin last ventured onto foreign soil in December 2022 when he visited Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

China’s foreign ministry said Mr Wang is in Russia for four days for “strategic security consultations”.

Russian news agency Tass, citing the Kremlin, said he would meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and the Ukraine war would be a key topic of their talks.

They will also discuss “the expansion of Nato forces and infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region” and strengthening their coordination in international groupings such as the UN, it said.

While China is keen on seeing an end to the Ukraine war so it can repair its relations with Europe, it also wants to “separate that outcome from determining who is to blame for the war”, since it is sympathetic to Russia, noted Rorry Daniels, managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute.