“We have not lost anything and are not going to lose anything. Our main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty. We have not started anything, in terms of military action, but are only trying to finish it,” Putin told the audience.
In a statement on Monday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said more than 25,000 Russian soldiers had died since Putin’s invasion began in February this year.
The forum also saw China’s number three, Li Zhanshu, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China and the country’s top lawmaker, meet Putin in person on Wednesday, in what was the highest level, face-to-face meeting between the two countries since the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow. The two were photographed together during a plenary session of the forum.
Military junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also attended the forum, according to Russian state media.
Opening the way
Xi will meet Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit scheduled for September 15-16, Russian envoy to Beijing Andrey Denisov told reporters on Wednesday, according to Russian news agency Tass.
It would be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, who have established a close relationship, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. It would also be Xi’s first overseas trip since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Li arrived in Vladivostok on Wednesday to attend the forum, becoming the highest-ranking Chinese official to leave China since the start of the pandemic, which has seen the country close borders and limit in-person diplomacy. The stopover is part of a 10-day overseas tour, during which Li will visit Russia, South Korea, Mongolia and Nepal from Wednesday, Chinese state media reported. this week.
The diplomatic visit underscores the importance of Russian relations for China, even in the face of international backlash against Moscow after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
It also comes weeks before a critical five-year political meeting in Beijing, where Xi is expected to break with tradition and take on a third term in power, cementing his role as China’s most powerful leader in decades.
The two countries have signaled that their partnership remains strong, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying last month that the two sides agreed to “deepen practical cooperation” during a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a regional conference. gathering in Phnom Penh.
Ahead of his planned visit to Russia, Li made similar comments during a meeting last week with Russian Ambassador Denisov in Beijing. There, Li, who is also chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, stressed that the two nations are “moving in the right direction under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, with firm mutual support and political trust.” constant,” according to the Chinese. state media.