Putin photographed meeting Xi Janping by Michail Klimentev, Sputnik, Kremlin via Ap.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — 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, which weathered another night of drone and rocket attacks following a large-scale missile bombardment.

Putin and Xi made no direct mention of Ukraine in their opening remarks by videoconference, which were broadcast publicly, before going into private talks. But they hailed strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing amid what they called “geopolitical tensions” and a “difficult international situation,” with Putin expressing his wish to extend military collaboration.

“In the face of increasing geopolitical tensions, the significance of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is growing as a stabilizing factor,” said Putin, whose invasion of a neighboring country has been stymied by fierce Ukrainian resistance and Western military aid.

The Russian leader said he expected Xi to visit Moscow in the spring. Such a trip “will demonstrate to the whole world the strength of the Russian-Chinese ties on key issues, will become the main political event of the year in bilateral relations,” he said.

Putin said military cooperation has a “special place” in the relationship between their countries. He said the Kremlin aimed to “strengthen the cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China.”

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.”

In its report on the meeting, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV described the events in Ukraine as a “crisis.” The term marked a departure from China’s usual references to the “Ukraine situation,” and the change may reflect growing Chinese concern about the direction of the conflict.

“Xi Jinping emphasized that China has noted that Russia has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations, for which it (China) expresses its appreciation,”” CCTV reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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. Zelenskyy 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.”

Alena Verbitskaya, presidential commissioner for the protection of the rights of defenders of Ukraine, said Friday that 3,392 Ukrainian servicemen are now in Russian captivity. Another 15,000 people are classified as missing, he told Germany’s RedaktionsNetzwerk.

President Xi Janping is not smiling to Vladimir Putin allthe Time(Photo: Wikipedia)

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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