Despite having had tense relations in the past, Moscow and Beijing are now working together on an unprecedented number of issues, including trade, technology, and defense, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Speaking to journalists as part of his annual press conference, the Russian leader said that he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping address each other as “friends.”
“We have very trusting relations and it helps us build good business ties as well,” Putin added, noting that Beijing is an “obvious leader” in the global economy and Asia, meaning that it is only natural that Russia develops relations with China in this field.
Putin stated that Russia is “China’s number one partner,” stressing that they work in a lot of areas, including the energy sector, space exploration, and on humanitarian issues. He said that this “brings us closer together.”
“We are cooperating in the field of security. The Chinese Army is equipped to a significant extent with the world’s most advanced weapons systems. We are even developing certain high-tech weapons together,” the Russian leader went on.
He said that there has been nothing like Russia and China’s current relations in history before, and remarked that this serves as a “stabilizing factor” on the world stage.
Putin’s remarks come after a video conference with Xi last week amid worsening relations between East and West. Yuri Ushakov, the Russian leader’s foreign policy advisor, said after the talks that Moscow and Beijing vowed to develop shared financial structures to enable the two nations to deepen their economic ties, without the interference of third countries.
Both Moscow and Beijing are said to be increasingly looking to move away from using the US dollar as the main currency in international trade, instead using their own denominations to underpin booming trade between the two nations.
The move appeared to be a response to a series of warnings from the West that Moscow could be cut off from the SWIFT international payment system as a punitive sanction if Russian troops were to stage an invasion of Ukraine.
In October, Russian and Chinese naval vessels completed their first joint patrol mission in the Pacific Ocean. The exercise came shortly after the unveiling of a trilateral submarine pact between Washington, London, and Canberra, known as ‘AUKUS,’ which was widely interpreted as a challenge toward Beijing designed to counter China’s growing influence at sea.
Following the pact’s announcement, Putin condemned nations teaming up against others, arguing that the creation of the AUKUS bloc “undoubtedly undermines regional stability because, in my opinion, it is good to be friends with each other – but to be friends against someone is bad.”
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