A handout photo made available by the Russian Defence Ministry press-service shows the Head of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Vladimir Zarudnitsky (L) welcoming Chinese Defence Minister Gen. EFE/EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT -- MANDATORY CREDIT -- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

China, Russia vow to boost military cooperation

Moscow, Apr 18 (EFE).- China and Russia’s defense ministers on Tuesday said they were determined to deepen bilateral military cooperation.

Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu met in Moscow for the Beijing diplomat’s first trip overseas since being appointed defense minister in March.

Beijing and Moscow have developed closer defense ties in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to the Kremlin being increasingly isolated from Western nations.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with Russian President Putin and Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu, in Moscow, Russia, 16 April 2023. EFE/EPA/PAVEL BEDNYAKOV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL

“I am confident that your great experience in interacting with the Russian Federation will contribute to the development of the People’s Liberation Army, as well as to the expansion of military cooperation between our countries,” Shoigu said at the bilateral meeting.

“I look forward to the closest and most fruitful cooperation with you in the spirit of unbreakable friendship between our countries and peoples, as well as between the armed forces of Russia and China,” the Russian minister added.

After the meeting Shoigu and Li penned a memorandum of understanding, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu attends a meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow, Russia, 16 April 2023. EFE/EPA/PAVEL BEDNYAKOV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN / POOL

The visit comes after Russian president Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping cemented the ties between the two countries at a Moscow summit in March.

Russia has become ever more reliant on China since it invaded neighboring Ukraine in February last year, particularly in trade, with Beijing becoming a key partner amid western  sanctions on Moscow.

Shoigu hailed the summit as “the top political event in the Russia-China relationship this year” saying that the partnership had a “stabilizing effect” on global politics and that it helped to “reduce the potential for conflict.”

“President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping confirmed that the comprehensive Russia-China partnership and strategic cooperation are at the highest level,” the Russian defense chief added. “It is necessary to develop them, lending each other decisive support, including on national security issues.”

Li said that the armed forces of the allied nations would “carefully implement the agreements reached by the heads of state and promote military and military-technical cooperation and military trade between Russia and China.”

“We will definitely take them to the next level,” Li was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news agency. EFE