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Vladimir Putin feted at Xi Jinping’s global Belt and Road summit

At a conference in Beijing, Russian President Vladimir Putin was given the red carpet treatment, highlighting the growing connections between China and Russia.

Putin attended the event, which was hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and commemorated the Belt and Road Initiative’s (10th) anniversary, together with heads of state and government from more than 130 nations.

Since the attack on Ukraine in February of last year, Putin has almost ever left the country, and in addition to growing political isolation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest order for him for suspected war crimes in Ukraine.

Putin is unlikely to be detained in China, though, given Beijing is not a party to the ICC’s authority. Putin and Xi are great friends, and Xi famously declared, shortly before the conflict started, that “there is no limit to China-Russia friendship.”

On Wednesday, the events began with an inauguration ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Standing next to other world leaders, President Xi and Vladimir Putin entered the room together.

Putin and the Chinese President were front and centre during the group photo, with Xi speaking after him. They then had a three-hour long bilateral meeting.

Putin has previously held a prominent position at Belt and Road meetings, but these occasions took place before Russia started the conflict in Ukraine. China has since received criticism from the West for siding with Russia and even making an effort to back Ukraine.

In the midst of global shifts, Putin and Xi forge stronger ties

Presidents Putin and Xi were front and centre, surrounded by their respective teams, in a meeting that attracted interest from across the world on Wednesday. During his visit, President Putin was ready to return the favour. He called the ambitious BRI initiative “in line with Russian thinking” and praised their Chinese colleagues for their accomplishments in his address, pledging support for President Xi’s vision.

China has reportedly invested a trillion dollars on projects all around the world as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). President Putin also mentioned that China and Russia, like the majority of the world’s nations, have similar ambitions for cooperation and economic development when speaking to leaders from developing nations in the so-called Global South Group.

There are worries that China and Russia are creating an alliance to confront the West, which is why they are meeting. Both countries have vocally opposed American-led “global hegemony” and advocated for a more “multipolar” world with power distributed among several different centres.

Leading the BRICS meeting, China highlighted the BRI’s inclusion and justice as the foundation of a new global order. In his speech, President Xi was adamant that the BRI “represents the right path to progress in our time” and is on the “right side of history.”

He vehemently condemned “ideological conflicts, zero-sum politics, and group politics,” as well as the unilateral sanctions and “decoupling” of supply chains that are frequently connected to Washington’s strategy. Washington has received harsh criticism from Beijing for how it has handled globalisation.

In contrast, the BRICS conference promoted “win-win cooperation,” where “the boat goes faster when everyone pitches in.” An eight-point strategy was outlined by President Xi to advance the BRICS. It consists of scaled-down initiatives, “green development,” and “integrity building.”

While many nations have praised the BRICS for its wide support for development, it has also come under fire for overextending loans, damaging the environment, encouraging corruption, and funding unnecessary projects.

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