The offensive has seen Ukraine recapture the strategic city of Izyum

Xi Jinping and Putin challenge world order at regional summit

During the offensive, Ukraine recaptured the strategic city of Izyum – Copyright AFP/File Sam Yeh

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for a shake-up of the world order when they met with Asian leaders at a summit Friday, challenging Western influence.

At a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in former Soviet Uzbekistan, Putin and Xi met with the leaders of SCO members India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries, as well as the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

Putin and Xi met on Thursday for their first face-to-face talks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine and during the Chinese leader’s first trip abroad since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The summit was proposed as an alternative to “Western-centric organizations” at a time of mounting pressure on Moscow over Ukraine and growing anger in Beijing over US support for Taiwan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for a shake-up of the world order at the summit, challenging Western influence – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Brendan Smialowski

Xi told leaders at the summit that it was time to change the international system and “abandon zero-sum games and bloc politics.”

The leaders should “work together to help develop the international order in a more just and rational direction,” Xi said.

Putin welcomed the growing influence of countries outside the West, criticizing what he called “tools of protectionism, illegal sanctions and economic selfishness.”

“The growing role of new centers of power that cooperate with each other … is becoming more and more obvious,” Putin said.

– Negotiations with Turkey –

The summit was Putin’s first major international outing since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February, sparking a conflict that has left thousands dead and a wave of economic sanctions hit Russia.

On Thursday, Xi said China was willing to work with Russia to support “each other’s core interests,” although Putin acknowledged that Beijing had “concerns” about Ukraine that he would resolve.

The SCO, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was established in 2001 as a political, economic and security organization in competition with Western institutions.

In a sign that the bloc is far from complete unity, clashes escalated along the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Friday, with both sides accusing each other of responsibility and the use of heavy weapons.

Later on Friday, Putin was scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a key broker in deals between Russia and Ukraine on issues such as grain supplies.

Erdogan told leaders at the summit that efforts were being made “to end the conflict in Ukraine through diplomacy as soon as possible.”

Xi met with Erdogan on Friday, calling for more “political mutual trust” between the two countries and pushing for greater cooperation under his signature One Belt, One Road global trade initiative.

Xi was also scheduled to have his first private conversation with Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on Friday after Raisi met with Putin on Thursday.

– US and Taiwan express concern –

For Xi, the summit was an opportunity to bolster his reputation as a global statesman ahead of the ruling Communist Party’s key congress in October, where many expect him to win an unprecedented third presidential term.

For Putin, this was a chance to show that he is not completely isolated on the world stage, while his forces in Ukraine are suffering serious defeats on the battlefield.

Other countries are sounding the alarm about deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that China and Russia “share a vision of the world that is sharply at odds with the vision that is at the center of the international system, the vision that has been at the center of the international system for the past eight years. decades.”

He also took note of Putin’s reference to China’s “concern” about Ukraine in his talks with Xi, suggesting that the “striking” admission showed that Moscow does not have Beijing’s full support in its military campaign.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the two countries were damaging “international peace, stability, democracy and freedom.”

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