China’s top diplomat Wang Yi is visiting Russia as it seeks continued support for its war on Ukraine.
Any bid to end the war must take into account Moscow’s interests, Mr Wang and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov were quoted as saying after a meeting.
A close ally of Moscow, Beijing is accused of supporting Russia indirectly during the war, which it denies.
Russian media said Mr Wang’s trip would also pave the way for President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China soon.
This comes after Mr Putin met North Korea’s Kim Jong Un amid US fears they could strike an arms deal.
China’s foreign ministry said Mr Wang is in Russia for four days for “strategic security consultations”.
After Monday’s talks, the Russian foreign ministry said he and Mr Lavrov discussed the Ukraine war “and noted the futility of attempts to settle the crisis without taking account of Russia’s interests and, more particularly, its participation”.
China has put out its own Ukraine peace plan, unveiled during a whirlwind of diplomacy undertaken by Mr Wang earlier this year when he last visited Moscow and met Mr Putin.
While China is keen on seeing an end to the Ukraine war so it can repair its relations with Europe, it also wants to “separate that outcome from determining who is to blame for the war”, since it is sympathetic to Russia, noted Rorry Daniels, managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute.
China has been accused by the US of aiding Russia economically and supplying key technology since the war began.
A US intelligence report released in July said Beijing is “pursuing a variety of economic support mechanisms for Russia that mitigate both the impact of Western sanctions and export controls”.
It cited China’s increased purchases of Russian energy exports, the increased use of its currency in transactions with Russia, and the “probable” supply of dual technology – items which could be deployed for both civilian and military purposes such as drones – for use in Ukraine.
China has consistently denied such allegations and insists it maintains an objective position on the war.
Earlier this month Mr Putin said he expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, but did not say when.
Some observers believe he is likely to attend the Belt and Road Forum next month.
He has not travelled abroad since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March over war crimes in Ukraine. Mr Putin last ventured onto foreign soil in December 2022 when he visited Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
“Inviting Putin to China is a way to show support for Russia but that support must also be framed as a legitimate attempt to get Russia to the negotiating table so that China doesn’t worsen its position with the Europeans,” said Ms Daniels.