Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met on Thursday at a summit in Uzbekistan, their first face-to-face encounter since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting comes as Russia is reeling from major Ukraine advances on the ground in the six-month-old war, and with the Western alliance holding firm in its support of Kyiv. In their meeting, Russia state media reported that Putin told Xi Jinping he appreciated China’s “balanced position” regarding the conflict in Ukraine. The Kremlin leader also condemned U.S. “provocations” in the Taiwan Strait.
The meeting took place at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference, hosted in the historic Uzbek city of Samarkand along the Silk Road, and also includes India, Pakistan and four central Asian nations.
In televised remarks at the meeting, Putin told Xi: "We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis. We understand your questions and concerns about this. During today's meeting, we will of course explain our position."
Russia has been seeking China’s support since February’s invasion of Ukraine left it isolated in the face of wide-reaching Western sanctions and military support for Kyiv. China has tried to toe the line, but has repeatedly blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking Moscow.
Hours before the two leaders met, Russian and Chinese navies conducted joint patrols and exercises in the Pacific Ocean according to Russia's Ministry of Defense, in a symbolic show of force.
This meeting comes amid Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south of the country to take by Russian-occupied territory and Putin’s troops are retreating in mass.
After Each Spoke With Putin, UN Secretary-General, German Chancellor Pessimistic About Peace Deal
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres was downbeat about the possibility of peace after a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Guterres commented: “A ceasefire is not in sight… I would be lying if I said it would happen.”
Guterres and Putin also discussed the grain deal, prisoners of war, and Russia’s promise that there would be no obstacles to a fact-finding mission into last month’s prison attack in the Russian-occupied region of Eastern Ukraine in which dozens were killed.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also had a phone call with Putin a day earlier, and likewise expressed little hope of a diplomatic breakthrough.
Russian Missile Strikes Provoke Floods, Residents Told To Evacuate
Floods in Kryvyi Rih
Russian missile strikes destroyed a water pumping station in Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown. The strikes caused the Inhulets River to break through a dam. Residents in districts around the river were asked to evacuate their homes on Thursday.
This incident caused the embankments to flood which are close to residential buildings. But the water level has dropped and continues to fall according to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region civil military administration Valentyn Reznichenko.
Zelenksy’s Suprise Visit To Newly Liberated City Of Izium
Ukrainian President Zelensky Visits Recaptured City of Izium
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the town of Izium in the northeastern region of Kharkiv on Wednesday, five days after the country’s army recaptured the city from Russian occupation.
Zelensky attended a ceremony in the main square of the town where he raised the Ukrainian flag over the city’s administrative building, a testament to the growing confidence of officials in Kyiv. "Earlier, when we looked up, we always looked for the blue sky. Today, when we look up, we are looking for only one thing, the flag of Ukraine," he said on Telegram.
Izium is located near the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and was under Russian occupation for over five months. The Russian army was using the city as a launching pad for attacks towards the Donetsk region.
Zelensky Uninjured In Kyiv Car Crash
Officials in Kyiv are investigating a car crash involving the motorcade of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday. The president’s press secretary said that Zelensky was not seriously hurt. The statement read, “a car collided with the car of the President of Ukraine and escort vehicles. Medics accompanying the head of the state provided the driver of the car with emergency aid and transferred him to an ambulance.”
New Video Of Soldiers Being Recruited In Russian Prison
\u201cFor the first time, a video emerges of a recruitment talk for Wagner by Prigozhin in a Russian prison camp. Absolutely bonkers. \u201cNobody goes back behind bars. If you serve six months, you are free. If you arrive in Ukraine and decide it\u2019s not for you, we execute you.\u201d\u201d— Yaroslav Trofimov (@Yaroslav Trofimov) 1663175573
After a new video emerged, the unofficial head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was forced to confirm that his private militia has recruited Russian prisoners to fight in the war in Ukraine.
According to U.S. think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, the militia, known as Putin’s “ghost army,” has been recruiting in prisons since July.
A video, posted Wednesday by a journalist, shows Prigozhin speaking to inmates at a prison, saying that those who commit themselves to fighting in the conflict will be rewarded after six months with a pardon from their sentence, and will be able to return home or remain in the ranks of the Wagner militia.
U.S. Senators Introduce Bill To Designate Russia State Sponsor Of Terrorism
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
U.S. Senators have introduced new legislation that would label Russia as a sponsor of terrorism. This designation was pushed by Ukraine, but has been opposed by President Joe Biden’s administration for fear of making eventual peace negotiations more difficult.
The Bill was introduced by both Democratic and Republican Senators. "The need for this measure is more pressing now than ever before," said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the designation would send a strong signal of support to Kyiv, as well as U.S. allies, while imposing stiff penalties on Russia.
Sofia To Budapest? Potential Putin Allies Inside The EU
A mural depicting Vladimir Putin in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In early October, Bulgaria will once again hold elections, as the country struggles to choose its path: democracy or cronyism, pro-Western or pro-Russian.
For the EU, there is a lot at stake. Bulgaria could play a key role in Europe’s energy supply – if its government is wiling. German daily Die Welt notes that another potential headache for Brussels is the possibility that Bulgaria could follow Hungary’s example in opposing strict sanctions on Russia. Read more here
In Crimea, Wedding Guests Arrested For Dancing To A Ukrainian Song
In Russia and in its occupied territories, repression and arrests continue to target those who sympathize with Ukraine or speak out against the war — and they’re getting more absurd.
In Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, wedding guests, including the mothers of the bride and groom, were detained for dancing to the Ukrainian folk song Chervona Kalina. They were fined and sent to a detention center for 15 days. The official reason was the display of Nazi symbols and discrediting the Russian army, though pro-Russian publications referred to the song as "the anthem of Ukrainian nationalists."