MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping talked up ties in Moscow on Friday as some two dozen world leaders headed to Russia for a grandiose World War II victory parade snubbed by the West.
Russia will roll out its military might at the Red Square parade to mark 70 years since victory over Nazi Germany from 10 a.m. on Saturday (0700 GMT) with 16,000 troops and a display of hardware including the latest generation Armata tanks.
Putin called Xi “our great friend” after a meeting at the Kremlin where the two leaders of the neighboring countries that once shared a Communist ideology said they agreed to strengthen economic ties.
“President Putin and I held detailed and friendly talks,” Xi said, adding that they agreed on the need for “further broadening of Russian and Chinese ties.”
The two leaders signed a joint declaration on cooperation between a Kremlin-backed trade bloc made up of ex-Soviet allies Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and China’s vision of a Silk Road Economic Belt running West through Asia to the markets of Europe.
“We are talking about the prospect of entering a new level of partnership with a shared economic space on the whole Eurasian continent,” Putin said.
The two sides signed memorandums on deals including Chinese investment in a high-speed rail line linking Moscow and the Volga city of Kazan.
“The Chinese side agreed to finance this project to the tune of around 300 billion rubles ($5.92 billion),” Putin said.
They also signed an agreement on creating a joint Chinese-Russian company that could acquire 100 of Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 jumbo jets over three years in a deal worth around $3 billion and lease them out in Asia.
Putin said the two also discussed joint energy projects, with “substantial results.”
Last year, China and Russia inked a 30-year, $400-billion agreement that will eventually involve Moscow supplying Beijing with 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
“The Russian side has already started building the gas pipeline while work on Chinese territory starts in the near future,” Putin said.
China is Russia’s largest trade partner.