Putin and Xi Show United Front Amid Rising Tensions With U.S.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China met in a video summit and sought mutual support in their conflicts with the West.

They did not declare a formal alliance, but they called each other “old friend,” “dear friend” and “esteemed friend,” showing solidarity in the face of increased Western pressure over human rights and an ever-tighter geopolitical partnership.

Putin said that he would attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in February, making him the first leader to confirm that he would go to an event that officials from the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other countries have boycotted.

Points of agreement: Xi voiced support for Putin’s demands for “security guarantees” from the West. Putin concurred with Xi’s critical view of Western military activity in the Asia-Pacific region. The leaders discussed forming an “independent financial infrastructure,” a Kremlin aide said, to reduce their reliance on Western banks.

Context: Western officials have been in talks about Russia’s pressure on Ukraine. But Moscow is signaling that it has plenty of other friends, as with Putin’s trip last week to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. Putin and Xi floated a possible three-way summit with India.

Quotable: “Both China and Russia face the same pressure from the United States,” Cheng Xiaohe, a professor in Beijing, said. “Therefore, the two countries need to support each other in diplomacy.”