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Putin, Xi to discuss European security amid Ukraine standoff – Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian and Chinese presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will spend a “lot of time” discussing security in Europe and the set of demands Moscow has made of the West when they meet for talks next week, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Putin will travel to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 4 against the backdrop of a tense confrontation with the West over Ukraine.

The talks will be closely watched in Washington and elsewhere for clues to the direction of the Russia-China relationship, which has grown closer as both countries’ ties with the West have deteriorated.

Moscow has built up military forces near Ukraine in a show of strength as it presses its demands for security guarantees from the United States and its allies.

“I think this time of course a lot of time will be spent on an exchange of views on international issues, including strategic stability in Europe, security guarantees for Russia, security in Europe and Russia’s dialogue with the United States and NATO, and regional problems,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Putin is set to fill a void left by foreign dignitaries after some Western countries announced they would not send state officials to the Games because of China’s human rights record. Putin has said he opposes diplomatic boycotts.

Russia has cultivated closer ties with China since 2014 when its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine soured relations with the West.

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