HONG KONG — Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia early next week, in his first such trip since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

At the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Xi will pay a state visit from Monday to Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

«During this visit, President Xi will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international regional issues of mutual concern,» spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing. «Strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries will contribute to the growth of bilateral ties.»

The visit was also confirmed by the Kremlin.

«The two leaders will discuss key issues related to the further development of the comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,» he said in a statement.

said a series of “Important bilateral documents” would also be signed.

China’s foreign ministry did not confirm reports that Xi’s trip to Russia would be followed by a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, with whom the Chinese leader has not spoken since before the war began last February. .

“We are in communication with all parties,” Wang said in response to a question about the reports.

Xi’s visit to Russia comes as China is trying to position itself as a mediator in the conflict, now in its second year. A 12-point peace proposal that Beijing launched last month received a tepid response in both Ukraine and Russia, while the West quickly dismissed it as too pro-Moscow.

China, which declared an «unlimited» partnership with Russia weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, has tried to present itself as neutral in the conflict. He has refrained from condemning Russia’s aggression or even calling it an invasion, while urging negotiation and taking care not to violate international sanctions.

The United States has been warning that China may be considering sending artillery and ammunition to Russia for use in the conflict, which would represent a significant change in its approach. Beijing has dismissed the reports and accused Washington of escalating the conflict with its support for kyiv.

In a rare call Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart, China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang said Beijing was concerned the conflict could get out of hand and hoped for a political solution.

«China has always adhered to an objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue, is committed to encouraging peace talks, and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks,» he told Dmytro Kuleba, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry reading. Ministry.

Kuleba, who also spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken early Thursday, said on Twitter that he and Qin had «discussed the importance of the principle of territorial integrity.» He said he also stressed the importance of Zelenskyy’s own peace plan.

Xi and Putin previously met in Uzbekistan last September on the sidelines of a regional summit. Putin invited Xi on a state visit during a video conference in December, and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi laid the groundwork for the trip when he was in Moscow last month.

Eric Baculinao, Jace Zhang and john joe regan contributed.