What is China’s relationship with Russia, and with Ukraine?

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September; and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2019. (Sergei Bobylev; Noel Celis/Pool/AP)
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping is set to travel to Russia on Monday to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

The visit, set to last through Wednesday, will attract close scrutiny in Western capitals intent on discerning developments in the increasingly warm relationship between the two countries, both of which are nuclear-armed, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

More than a year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin is a pariah at most international meetings and has relatively few powerful allies abroad.

China has not endorsed Russia’s war on Ukraine and has promoted a 12-point proposal for ending it. But Beijing has stopped far short of condemning Russia’s aggression, and the visit is likely to be interpreted in some corners as a tacit endorsement of Russia’s actions.

The two countries are increasingly aligned in a shared animosity toward the United States and its allies, although the U.S. and Chinese economies, which far outpace Russia’s, remain economically intertwined. Some analysts have compared Beijing’s views on Taiwan as comparable to Russia’s on Ukraine.