Russian President Vladimir Putin received a red carpet welcome when he arrived in Beijing to participate in a global Belt and Road summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The event marked the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and drew leaders from more than 130 countries.

The opening ceremony was held at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, where Presidents Xi and Putin entered side by side, ahead of other world leaders. Putin had a prominent role throughout the event, standing alongside President Xi for the group photo. He spoke second after Xi during the proceedings.

One highlight of the summit was the three-hour bilateral meeting between Putin and Xi. The two leaders discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and developments in the Middle East. The meeting between the two leaders was often referred to as a “no-limits friendship”.

During a subsequent news conference, Putin noted the increasing number of conflicts in the world. He emphasised that these external factors are common threats that strengthen Russian-Chinese cooperation. This sentiment aligns with the concerns that China and Russia are forming a bloc to challenge Western influence, with both nations criticising US-led “global hegemony” and advocating for a “multipolar” world.

Russia’s presence at the Belt and Road summit is notable, given that previous appearances occurred before Russia invaded Ukraine. China faced criticism from Western countries for its support of Russia, even as it has attempted to show support for Ukraine.

Putin, in his speech at the summit, expressed support for President Xi’s BRI, highlighting that it aligned with Russian ideas and commending China for its achievements in the trillion-dollar project that aims to transform global infrastructure and development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also continued to emphasise the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative, describing it as “on the right side of history.” He denounced negative aspects of global politics, including ideological confrontation, geopolitical rivalry, bloc politics, unilateral sanctions, and supply chain “decoupling.” In contrast, he stressed the BRI’s “win-win cooperation” approach, where everyone benefits.

Xi outlined an eight-point plan for advancing the BRI, including promoting smaller projects, emphasising “green development,” and building integrity in the initiative. The BRI has received both praise for spurring development in many countries and criticism for issues like debt burdens, environmental damage, and corruption.

The summit in Beijing attracted countries primarily from Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, highlighting the global reach of the BRI. Notable attendees included representatives from Afghanistan’s Taliban government.