Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China to attend the Belt and Road Forum in October in his first official visit abroad since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him, the Kremlin's press service said on Sept. 20.
The announcement came after Putin met with Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi in St. Petersburg.
"I accepted with pleasure the invitation of the Chairman of the People's Republic of China to visit China in October of this year... to promote President Xi Jinping's idea that has already become an international brand - One Belt, One Road," Putin said, according to the Kremlin.
Bloomberg reported on Putin's upcoming visit back in August, citing its unnamed sources.
Putin has avoided international trips since the ICC issued arrest warrants against him and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for their role in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. The only exemption was the Russian leader's reported visit to the occupied parts of Ukraine.
Earlier in August, he did not attend the BRICS summit hosted by South Africa. This country is a signatory to the ICC's Rome Statute and therefore legally obliged to detain the Russian president.
Putin also refused to attend the Group of 20 summit held in India.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, the Russian leader is willing to visit only those countries where his security service can guarantee his safety.
Bloomberg's sources said that China, who is also not a party to the Rome Statute, is one such place.
While China has publicly positioned itself as a neutral party in the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine, and urged a peaceful solution, Beijing has backed Moscow against the West's effort to isolate Russia internationally.
The Chinese government publicly denied that it had provided military aid to the Kremlin, however, a U.S. intelligence report from July 27 suggested that China has in fact exported significant amounts of dual-use technologies that Moscow deploys for military purposes in Ukraine.