Updated May 16, 2024 - World

Putin and Xi condemn U.S., agree to strengthen Russia-China strategic ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 16. Photo: Sergei Bobtlyov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged to deepen the countries' already close strategic ties and condemned what they claimed was aggressive behavior from the U.S.

Why it matters: The joint statement from the two leaders is an overt snub to U.S. officials, who traveled to China last month and objected to Beijing's material and financial support for Russia throughout its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

  • In the joint statement, they condemned the U.S. for "hegemonic attempts" to change the balance of power in Northeast Asia and for its "intimidation in the military sphere" against North Korea.

Context: Putin is on a two-day state visit to China, the first known foreign trip since he seized a fifth term as president earlier this year.

  • China has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has abstained during United Nations votes against the war and Russia's illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory.

What they're saying: Speaking Thursday, Putin and Xi claimed Russia and China's relationship was needed to defend "fairness" and "justice" and a "democratic world order," according to Reuters.

Between the lines: Both leaders' regimes are seeking to undermine democratic intuitions and principals in favor of their model of strong-man authoritarianism.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing Thursday Biden administration officials "don't see anything new here" in reference to the joint statement.

  • "We find it unacceptable Chinese companies are helping Putin wage this war against Ukraine," Jean-Pierre said.
  • "If China purports to support peace in Europe, it cannot continue to fuel the biggest threat to European security," she added, noting that NATO, the European Union and Group of Seven nations share that sentiment.
  • Jean-Pierre would not answer whether the U.S. has any leverage to dissuade China from supporting Russia's war effort.

State of play: It's unclear what defense and economic compacts the countries may have made during the visit.

  • They did agreed to build a big cat preserve, begin exports of Jerusalem artichokes and start infrastructure and media collaborations, according to the Kremlin.
  • They also consented to a "unified concept" for the development of the Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island, known as Heixiazi Dao in China. The island has been disputed between Russia and China since the Soviet Union forcefully occupied it in 1929.

What to watch: Russia is currently attempting to convince China to back the long-proposed Power of Siberia 2 pipeline.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with remarks from a White House briefing.

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