Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged Monday that Beijing will actively promote peace talks to resolve the Ukraine crisis as he started his state visit to Russia and met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who welcomed China's readiness to make a meaningful contribution.

The two leaders penned articles for major news outlets in each other's country before the start of Xi's three-day trip to Russia, his first visit to the neighboring state since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine began in February last year.

Combined file photo shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Kyodo)

They held a one-on-one meeting Monday afternoon in Moscow, with Putin telling Xi he plans to discuss Ukraine during the talks, according to Russia's Tass news agency.

Upon his arrival in Moscow, Xi said China will work with Russia to uphold true multilateralism and promote a multipolar world. He expressed confidence that his Russia visit will "inject fresh impetus into the sound and steady growth of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership," according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In a piece published in the Russian Gazette and on the website of RIA Novosti news agency, Xi said his visit to Russia will be "a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace." Noting "an all-round escalation of the Ukraine crisis," the Chinese leader said, "There is no simple solution to a complex issue."

But Xi added Beijing believes as long as all parties "pursue equal-footed, rational and results-oriented dialogue and consultation, they will find a reasonable way to resolve the crisis."

In his article in the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, Putin thanked Beijing for its "well-balanced stance" on the Ukraine crisis and hailed bilateral relations as "the cornerstone of regional and global stability."

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on Friday, alleging he has overseen the war crime of forcible deportation of Ukrainian children during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference in Beijing on Monday that the ICC should "uphold an objective and impartial stance" and "exercise its functions and powers prudently in accordance with the law."

The spokesman added the ICC should "avoid politicization and double standards."

With Xi and Putin reaffirming last year that their bilateral friendship has "no limits," China has opposed sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia over the war and increased energy imports from Moscow. Bilateral trade hit a record $190 billion in 2022, according to Chinese customs data.

China called for a comprehensive cease-fire in Ukraine in a position paper issued on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

In the paper, Beijing showed consideration for Kyiv's position, saying, "The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld." But it did not urge Moscow to withdraw troops from Ukraine.

The United States has expressed concern over allegations that China is considering providing lethal weapons to Russia to support its war effort and said Washington will oppose any call for a cease-fire in Ukraine that simply benefits Moscow.

Asked about a report that the United States has confirmed rounds of Chinese ammunition have been used on battlefields in Ukraine and suspects they were fired by Russian forces, Wang said it is Washington, not Beijing, that provides weapons to the combat zone.

He urged the United States to "stop fanning the flames and pointing fingers at other countries" and to "play a constructive role in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, not the opposite."

On Tuesday, Xi and Putin are scheduled to hold negotiations involving ministers of the two countries, with energy and military cooperation expected to be among the agenda items.

They will sign two joint statements -- one on strengthening their comprehensive partnership and strategic relations, and the other on a plan to develop key areas of bilateral economic cooperation through 2030, according to Tass.

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported that Xi is planning to hold a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the Chinese leader's trip to Russia.

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