Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Beijing, Moscow's foreign ministry said Monday, Oct. 16, ahead of an expected visit by President Vladimir Putin.

The foreign ministry said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that Lavrov was in the Chinese capital as part of a Russian delegation.

Beijing is hosting representatives of 130 countries Tuesday to Wednesday to mark a decade of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) -- a key geopolitical project of President Xi to extend China's global reach.

But all eyes will be on Putin, who last month told Beijing's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Saint Petersburg he had "gladly accepted" President Xi Jinping's invitation to visit China for the BRI talking shop.

The Russian leader's strategic dependence on China has only grown since his invasion of neighbouring Ukraine thrust his country into international isolation.


Putin has hardly ventured beyond his country's borders since the war, with this week's trip the first to a major global power.

This year, trade between the two powers has soared to levels not seen since the beginning of Moscow's war in Ukraine, with Chinese imports of Russian oil offering Moscow a critical lifeline as international sanctions bite.

China has refused to condemn the war in an effort to position itself as a neutral party, while at the same time offering Moscow vital diplomatic and financial support.

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