Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Russia on Monday for a three-day visit becoming the first major world leader to visit the country since President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last year. The meeting between the two leaders comes just after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin on alleged war crimes focusing on the deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
Xi seeks his visit to be a "fruitful" one, although it's also drawing intense suspicion from the West as it shows deepening ties between Russia and China.
The trip is seen as a major show of support for Putin who has been isolated internationally for his invasion of Ukraine. China has also been reluctant to join other major powers in sanctioning Russia since the war started.
"This war could actually end right now if Russia would withdraw its troops from the country," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday. "We hope that President Xi will press President Putin to cease bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals, and schools, to halt the war crimes and atrocities, and to withdraw his troops. But we are concerned that instead, China will reiterate calls for a ceasefire that leaves Russian forces inside Ukraine's sovereign territory."
The war in Ukraine will be a major topic of discussion between the two leaders – with both blaming the West for the conflict, and Xi calling for a peace proposal that favors Russia.
President Biden recently weighed in on that peace plan in an interview with ABC News. "I've seen nothing in a plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if their Chinese plan were followed," said Biden. "The idea that China is gonna be negotiating the outcome of a war that's a totally unjust war for Ukraine is just not rational."
Western countries will also be watching for signs of China increasing political, financial, and military support of Russia following this week's visit. The U.S. plans to sanction China if lethal aid is supplied to Russia for the war.
"Both Russia and China are just defiant and they're continuing to take action to transform the world in order to shift the balance of power to their advantage and away from the United States," Rebekah Koffler, author of Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America, told CBN News.
"The Chinese are only happy to have two of their top adversaries, perceived adversaries, Russia and the United States deplete their combat arsenals by waging this proxy war in Ukraine," continued Koffler. "Xi Jinping is just simply elated to let this happen and he will likely approve lethal aid to Russia so he can continue his barbaric war on Ukraine."
In Ukraine, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began a surprise visit to Kyiv Tuesday where he will meet with President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.
On Monday the White House called for China's leader to speak with Zelenskyy, as well. Xi said he plans to do so, and Zelenskyy said he's open to discussing proposals for peace but insists on Russian troops leaving all Ukrainian territory.
"We encourage President Xi to play a constructive role by speaking with President Zelenskyy, which he has not done since Russia launched this invasion, because China quite frankly, we believe should hear directly from the Ukrainians and not just from the Russians," continued Kirby.
Meanwhile, reporters questioned when Biden plans to talk to Xi. "We'll do that at the most appropriate time," answered Kirby. "It's important that we keep those lines of communication open, particularly now, when tensions are so high."
The United States claims that if Xi's visit ends in the two countries merely calling for a ceasefire, that will be unacceptable, claiming all it would do is ratify Russia's conquests thus far.