China sends top envoy Wang Yi to Russia for security talks
While Beijing denies supporting Russia indirectly during the war, it is a close ally of Moscow.
Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Beijing soon as a result of Wang’s trip.
In an earlier statement, Mr Putin said he expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, but he did not specify when the meeting would take place.
After the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him for war crimes in Ukraine, he has not travelled abroad.
Mr Putin welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a meeting expected to result in an arms deal.
Wang is in Russia for four days for “strategic security consultations”, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
The two will discuss “issues related to a settlement in Ukraine” and Asia-Pacific security, according to Moscow. Days earlier, Mr Putin welcomed Mr Kim in a highly controversial meeting, which the US alleged was to discuss North Korean arms sales to Russia. There is a shortage of weapons and ammunition in Moscow.
The two countries discussed “military cooperation” and Pyongyang’s satellite program.
The Chinese foreign ministry declined to comment on Mr Kim’s trip last week, saying it was a matter between the two countries.
The close ties between China and North Korea, however, lead some analysts to believe that any mutual support between the two countries is happening with China’s knowledge or even implicit consent.
Their shared distrust of the US and the West goes beyond socialist ideology. Through its trade with Pyongyang, Beijing has long been Pyongyang’s economic lifeline, and through increased purchases of Russian oil and gas, it has become Moscow’s as well.
“Whatever happens to Russia and North Korea cannot be happening without China knowing about it… I don’t think they would cooperate militarily without Beijing’s approval,” said Alexander Korolev, an expert on China-Russia relations at the University of New South Wales.
He said China could even consider North Korea as a useful proxy for Russia in the Ukraine conflict.