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Chinese President Jinping congratulates Russian President Putin after presenting him with the Friendship Medal. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a state visit to China, which will include attending the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, June 9-10.

What we're hearing: Chinese President Xi Jinping awarded Putin the inaugural friendship medal of the People's Republic of China, and praised his "contribution and efforts to building a peaceful world."

According to the readout from China's state run news agency, Xinhua:

"The two leaders agreed that China and Russia should adhere to the concept of everlasting friendship and the spirit of strategic coordination ... No matter how international situations change, China and Russia always firmly support each other in defending their respective core interests ... Xi said."

They are also expected to discuss North Korea and the upcoming summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

Why it matters: Many Western observers dismiss the Xi-Putin bromance as a tenuous friendship that poses no real challenge to the West. There are many points of potential friction in the China-Russia relationship, but it is risky to dismiss this renewed friendship too quickly as both Xi and Putin see massive opportunities from Trump's approach to foreign relations.

Separately, Trump just said he wants Russia invited back into the G-7.

Go deeper

14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Reid Hoffman launches $1M ad urging election patience

Screengrab of ad

Billionaire and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, one of Democrats' biggest donors, tells Axios he's launching a $1 million digital ad campaign in battleground states urging voters to be patient with election results and prepare for no winner to be known on Nov. 3, no matter what "some people" may prematurely declare via Twitter.

Driving the news: The three-minute ad, titled "We Count! A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza," features the voice of "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons and Broadway star Barrett Doss. The spot will appear on Facebook targeting voters in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61.7% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.