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Russia, China strengthen relations with high-level meetings amid war in Ukraine

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) are seen during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, last Thursday. Photo by Kremlin Pool/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/f533de315a2e0690242e1de3ecd47003/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) are seen during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, last Thursday. Photo by Kremlin Pool/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A Russian security delegation is in China this week for two days of high-level meetings aimed at further strengthening cooperation between the two nations, which is something that's causing concern in the region.

The diplomatic talks are another sign of deepening military ties between Beijing and Moscow since the beginning of the Ukraine war. They also follow a closely-watched summit in Uzbekistan last week where Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping discussed the conflict behind closed doors.

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Xi emerged from the meeting and said the countries were prepared to extend "strong support to each other on issues concerning their respective core interests," according to a report by The Mainichi.

Then on Sunday, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev arrived in China's Fujian province for a sit-down with Beijing's foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi.

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After the meeting, both men reaffirmed efforts to pursue a strategic alliance that would ultimately work to counter Western influence in the region.

"The course to develop a strategic partnership with China is an unconditional priority of Russia's foreign policy, it enjoys broad support of the peoples of the two countries, it is based on deep mutual trust, and therefore is not subject to external influence," Patrushev said according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency.

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Jiechi added that China had a "mutual interest in maintaining a high level of military-technical cooperation" like the joint tactical drills in Russia's Far East region that started last month. The exercises involve more than 50,000 soldiers from 14 Asian countries.

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Last week, Moscow expanded the drills to include patrols in the Pacific region, while Chinese and Russian warships have been observed conducting drills in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of increasing cooperation.

Some analysts say that Russia is seeking to shore up alliances after suffering devastating losses in the war, including the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian counteroffensive this month in the south and northeast has also been troublesome for Russian forces, with Ukraine retaking thousands of square miles of territory from Russia over the past week.

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