Li Shangfu travelled to Moscow where he said ties between the countries ‘surpass military-political alliances of the cold war era’
Vladimir Putin and China’s defence minister Li Shangfu have vowed to deepen military cooperation between China and Russia after the men met in Moscow over the weekend.
Li, who met the Russian president on Sunday on his first trip overseas in the role, said China was willing to work with Russia to have close strategic communications between their militaries.
He said China was prepared to strengthen multilateral coordination and cooperation with Russia, according to state-run CCTV news.
“China is willing to work with Russia to make new contributions to the maintenance of world and regional security and stability,” Li said, according to the report.
He said ties between Russia and China “surpass the military-political alliances of the cold war era”, in translated remarks broadcast on Russian TV.
“This is my first overseas visit since taking over as China’s defence minister. I specifically chose Russia for this in order to emphasise the special nature and strategic importance of our bilateral ties,” Li said.
After the meeting, which was also attended by Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin and Li hailed military cooperation between the two nations, which have declared a “no limits” partnership.
Footage of the meeting showed Putin shaking hands with Li and then sitting down at a table.
“We are working actively through our military departments, regularly exchange useful information, work together in the field of military-technical cooperation, and hold joint exercises,” Putin said.
The exercises, he added, had been held in the Far East as well as Europe and involved ground, naval and air forces.
“Undoubtedly, this is another crucial area that strengthens the extremely trusting, strategic nature of our relations,” Putin said.
Ukrainian forces are finding a growing number of components from China in Russian weapons used in Ukraine, a senior official in Kyiv said on Friday. China has repeatedly denied sending military equipment to Russia.
Last week, leaked US government documents said China approved the provision of lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine but wanted any shipments to remain a secret.
Nato and the United States say they have seen no signs yet that Beijing is supplying arms to Moscow.
Li’s trip to Russia, which will last until 19 April, comes weeks after an official visit to Moscow of China’s leader Xi Jinping last month.
During two days of talks, Putin and Xi hailed a “new era” in their relationship and discussed Beijing’s proposals to end the Ukraine conflict.
Beijing had announced Li’s visit to Moscow last week, saying he would meet defence officials, but made no mention of a meeting with Putin.
Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 over the purchase of combat aircraft and equipment from Russia’s main arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
Source : The Guardian