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Putin meets Chinese defence minister, both sides hail military cooperation

2023-04-16T17:55:25Z

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu in Moscow on Sunday and both men hailed military cooperation between the two nations, which have declared a “no limits” partnership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Putin in Moscow last month.

Russia and China have moved to further strengthen their economic, political and military ties since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Footage of the meeting showed Putin shaking hands with Li and then sitting down at a table. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was also present.

“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.

NATO and the United States say they have seen no signs yet that Beijing is supplying arms to Moscow.

The visit was the first Li has made to another country since he was appointed last month.

“In recent times cooperation between Russia and China in the military and military-technical spheres has been developing very well,” he told Putin, saying this helped boost regional security. Li’s comments were translated by the Kremlin.

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 U.S. sanctions since 2018 over the purchase of combat aircraft and equipment from Russia’s main arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu attend a meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 16, 2023. Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Pool via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link in Moscow, Russia, April 14, 2023. Sputnik/Alexei Babushkin/Kremlin via REUTERS