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PUTIN, XI RENEW RUSSIA, CHINA TIES

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on Thursday to deepen the “comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation “between Russia and China “for a new era” while condemning the U.S. for aggressive behavior they said threatened their countries. The statement signed by the leaders seemed to be an open rebuke to the U.S. after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month visited Beijing to express “serious concern” over China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Economically, China has been a lifeline for Russia, allowing it to evade some Western sanctions and limit the overall impact. Total China-Russia trade has boomed since the Ukraine invasion and hit

$240 billion in 2023, according to Chinese customs figures. However, Chinese exports to Russia dipped during March and April, after surging early in the year, amid U.S. efforts to go after banks that facilitate Moscow. Several Chinese banks have reportedly halted or slowed transactions with Russian clients.

On agriculture, the two leaders agreed to expand mutual access of agricultural products, boost the volume of trade in soybeans, pig breeding, water production, grains, fats and oils, fruits and vegetables, nuts and other products. In a statement after the meeting, Putin touted the growth of Russian food exports to China, which he said had surged by more than 50% to $7.6 billion, adding that overall bilateral trade in agricultural products between the countries had grown by 40%, totaling $9.7 billion.” There are strong indications that this trade segment will continue to expand further,” he said.

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