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Ushakov Briefs Press on Putin’s Upcoming Trip to China

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov. Credit: Embassy of Russia in Myanmar

In comments to the press on May 14, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov provided some details about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s May 16-17 visit to China. He reported that the list of Russian participants in the informal meeting of Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping “in the very narrow format” (i.e., with just a handful of participants), to be held on the evening of May 16, would include acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and acting Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. “We invited, naturally, the new Defense Minister [Andrey] Belousov to participate in this program, who, together with Lavrov and me, will participate in this meeting on the evening of May 16 that will be held in the very narrow format. Also, in continuation of our contacts with Chinese colleagues, we included Security Council Secretary [Sergey] Shoigu in the delegation—he should be a part of 1+4 [meeting],” Ushakov said.

Shoigu’s presence, who is the outgoing Defense Minister, came as a surprise to some Western pundits, including Financial Times, which had concluded that Shoigu’s replacement at Defense means that he’s on the way out altogether—which is certainly not the “body language” of an invitation to participate in a “very narrow format” meeting with President Xi.

Ushakov also discussed the meeting’s focus: “Most likely, the main and most important issues of foreign policy cooperation will be discussed during the informal meeting of leaders, which will take place at the end of the first day of work.” According to Sputnik, “the Kremlin aide also mentioned that Moscow and Beijing are cooperating in high-tech industries as well, including in creating a lunar station and drafting projects related to nuclear power plants.”

Ushakov added: “There will be an in-depth exchange of views on cooperation in various international organizations and structures, including the UN, where Russia and China stand in solidarity on almost all topics of the UN agenda. Naturally, cooperation between the two countries within the framework of BRICS will also be touched upon,” Ushakov told reporters.

A significant business delegation will accompany Putin, according to Sputnik: “Russia’s major businesspeople, including aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, Sberbank CEO German Gref, VTB Bank CEO Andrey Kostin, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, and Leonid Mikhelson, the co-owner of Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer Novatek, will also accompany Putin in his trip to China.”