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Illustrative purposes only: Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) in Beijing, China, on June 8, 2018. (Greg Baker/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China in May for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Reuters reported on March 19, citing five sources familiar with the matter.

This might be Putin's first trip abroad after he secured his fifth term in office in the recent presidential election, broadly regarded as rigged and unfair. While many Western leaders denounced the vote, Xi congratulated the Kremlin leader, promising to "maintain close communication" between the two countries.

Beijing has fostered close ties with Moscow during its full-scale war against Ukraine, increasing economic cooperation and disrupting Western attempts at isolating Russia. China has also weighed in on possible peace negotiations, saying talks must include Moscow.

Reuters' sources said Putin will likely arrive in China in the second half of May. Two of the sources said that the Russian leader's trip will precede Xi's planned visit to Europe.

The Kremlin did not confirm nor deny the planned visit in a comment for Reuters.

"Several presidential visits and several high-level contacts are being prepared at the moment," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

"We will inform you as we get closer."

Putin previously visited China last October to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Sanctions for show: Russian oil sales to China, India single main driver of Ukraine invasion
As Western sanctions designed to cripple Russian energy exports barely slow them down, the Kremlin continues to make enough money to keep its war against Ukraine going indefinitely, just by selling oil to China and India. After pivoting away from Europe, Moscow found enthusiastic buyers in Beijing…

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