Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow on Sunday for about four and a half hours of one-on-one talks, Russian news outlets reported.
The discussions, described as “informal” by Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti, took place from roughly 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The two leaders will reconvene at the Grand Kremlin Palace for an official meeting with their delegations on Tuesday afternoon.
Putin greeted Xi by calling him a “dear friend” and complimenting the 12-point peace plan for the war in Ukraine that China recently released, which has been summarily rejected by U.S. officials.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the “fundamental element” of any proposal for peace “must be upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
“Any plan that does not prioritize this critical principle is a stalling tactic at best, or is merely seeking to facilitate an unjust outcome that is not constructive diplomacy,” Blinken said at a press conference. “Calling for a cease fire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest.”
The meeting also comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for allegedly deporting Ukrainian children to Russia during the 13-month-long invasion.
President Biden said over the weekend that he believes the warrant is “justified” and that Putin has “clearly committed war crimes.” Blinken said Monday that Xi’s visit “suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine.”
Russia, China, and the U.S. do not recognize the International Criminal Court.
U.S. officials will be closely watching to see if China goes a step further in their partnership with Russia by sending arms to the country for deployment in Ukraine.
China has so far declined to send weapons to Russia, but House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said that China may be incentivized to do so as the war drags on.
“Putin is running out of ammunition, and he’s begged Iran for their drones. He’s begged North Korea for artillery shells. And now he’s really coming to Chairman Xi and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got to win this thing. I need your help.’ And I think Chairman Xi’s looking at Ukraine and thinking, ‘You know, Russia’s got to win this if I want to look at Taiwan,” McCaul, R-Texas, told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Monday.