Xi, Putin to Hold Virtual Summit Wednesday

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold a virtual summit this week to discuss bilateral relations and international issues, amid tensions between Moscow and the West over the massing of tens of thousands of Russian troops near its border with Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin mentioned no specific topics and said details would be released after Wednesday's video meeting.

"The two heads of state will give full review of China-Russia relations and cooperation in various fields this year," Wang said at a daily briefing on Monday.

Wang added the leaders will also "make top-level designs for the development of bilateral relations next year."

U.S. President Joe Biden warned Putin during a call last week that Russia would face painful sanctions that will do resounding economic harm if it again invaded Ukraine.

Putin responded that "Russian troops are on their own territory, and they don't threaten anyone," according to his foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov.

In recent years, China and Russia have increasingly aligned their foreign policies to counter U.S. domination of the international economic and political order. Both have faced sanctions over their internal policies, China over abuses against minorities, especially Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and for its crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Beijing and Washington also remain at odds over trade, technology and China's military intimidation of Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory.

Wang said the bilateral meeting of the U.S. rivals was expected to "further enhance the high-level mutual trust between the two sides."

Putin has sought guarantees that an expansion of the NATO military alliance would never include Ukraine, a demand rejected by the U.S. and its NATO allies.