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Putin invites his ‘dear friend’ Xi Jinping to Moscow in video call meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed Friday to deepen their bilateral cooperation against the backdrop of Moscow’s 10-month war in Ukraine.

The pair made no direct mention of the conflict during a brief video conference conducted earlier today. But they hailed strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing amid what they called ‘geopolitical tensions’ and a ‘difficult international situation.’

Putin was outspoken in his praise for Xi, whom he addressed during the call as a ‘respected chairman’ and ‘dear friend’, and noted the Kremlin was keen to ‘strengthen the cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China’.

‘In the face of increasing geopolitical tensions, the significance of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is growing as a stabilising factor,’ Putin said. 

‘I have no doubt that we will find an opportunity to meet in person. We are waiting for you, dear chairman, dear friend, next spring with a state visit to Moscow.’

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping via video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 30 December 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping (on screen) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin via video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 30 December 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping (on screen) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin via video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 30 December 2022

Xi, in turn, said through a translator that ‘in the face of a difficult and far from straightforward international situation,’ Beijing was ready ‘to increase strategic cooperation with Russia, provide each other with development opportunities, be global partners for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability around the world.’

Ties between Moscow and Beijing have grown stronger since Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24, and Xi has blasted the punishing sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and European allies.

Russia, in turn, has strongly backed China amid the tensions with the U.S. over Taiwan, and pointed out that Moscow has become one of the principal suppliers of oil to Beijing as the West seeks to cut reliance on Russian oil and gas. 

But Xi, who previously promised a ‘no limits’ friendship with Putin, has equally refused to openly support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Chinese officials having repeatedly urged the two sides to come to a peaceful, diplomatic solution since the war began in February.

The Russian leader told his Chinese counterpart on December 30 he was keen to ramp up military cooperation and hailed the two countries' efforts to counter Western influence

The Russian leader told his Chinese counterpart on December 30 he was keen to ramp up military cooperation and hailed the two countries’ efforts to counter Western influence

A view shows a house destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released December 29, 2022

A view shows a house destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released December 29, 2022

Soldiers of the Ukrainian 55th artillery brigade operate on the frontline with a US made Howitzer M777 cannon amid artillery fights on December 29, 2022

Soldiers of the Ukrainian 55th artillery brigade operate on the frontline with a US made Howitzer M777 cannon amid artillery fights on December 29, 2022

Ukraine meanwhile weathered another night of drone and rocket attacks following a massive missile bombardment yesterday morning.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its Friday morning update that Russian forces had unleashed a total of 85 missiles and 35 airstrikes on Ukrainian targets in the previous 24 hours. 

Russia also launched 63 attacks from multiple launch rocket systems, the military report said.

Following the first waves of missiles on Thursday morning, Russian forces attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-131/136 drones on Thursday night and early Friday, many of which were shot down, the Ukrainian air force said. 

Windows in a residential building and one non-residential building were damaged as a result of falling debris, but no casualties were reported, he said.

Further east, the Ukrainian military reported its forces shot down 10 attack drones in the central-eastern Dnipropetrovsk province and southeastern Zaporizhzhia provinces.

Almost 30 Russian shells were fired at Marhanets in Dnipropetrovsk province on Thursday night, according to regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko. 

Marhanets is located directly across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

Emergency services at the scene of a destroyed residential building following a Russian missile strike in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, 29 December 2022

Emergency services at the scene of a destroyed residential building following a Russian missile strike in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, 29 December 2022

Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier on the Donbas frontline, 29 December 2022

Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier on the Donbas frontline, 29 December 2022

Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier on the Donbas frontline, 29 December 2022

Ukrainian army medics treat a wounded Ukrainian soldier on the Donbas frontline, 29 December 2022

The city of Bakhmut in Donetsk province continued to be a key target of Russia’s grinding offensive in the industrial east, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun said.

Other populated places in Donetsk, neighboring Luhansk provice, northern Ukraine’s Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv provinces, and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces in the south all came under attack.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address that Russia hasn’t abandoned plans to capture all of Donetsk, aiming to accomplish the goal by New Year’s Day. 

Zelensky also warned Ukrainians there could be another widespread air assault.

‘There are two days left in this year. Perhaps the enemy will try once again to make us celebrate the New Year in the dark. Perhaps, the occupants are planning to make us suffer with the next strikes on our cities,’ he said. 

‘But no matter what they plan, we know one thing about ourselves: we will survive. We will. We will drive them out. No doubt about it. And they will be punished for this terrible war.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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