Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in China for a two-day state visit as the two countries aim to deepen further a relationship that has grown closer since Moscow attacked Ukraine more than two years ago.

Iran PressAsia: The visit comes days after Russia launched a new offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region and as it claims advances on the 1,000km (600-mile) long front line, where Kyiv’s forces have been hampered by delayed deliveries of weapons and ammunition from the United States.

Broadcast live on state television, Putin’s motorcade of nearly 20 vehicles, escorted by a formation of motorcyclists dressed in ceremonial white uniforms, arrived outside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People at about 11am (03:00 GMT) where the Russian president was met by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two countries’ anthems were played to the accompaniment of a gun salute, before the two leaders walked along the red carpets that had been laid out in the vast square to review the troops in a welcoming ceremony that lasted nearly half an hour. A group of children lined up next to the orchestra jumped and cheered as Putin and Xi walked past.

In discussions later, Xi greeted Putin as an “old friend”. He told Putin that China and Russia’s relationship had stood the test of time and that they had provided each other with “strategic guidance” in their more than 40 meetings over the past decade.

“China is ready to work with Russia to stay each other’s good neighbour, good friend and good partner,” state news agency Xinhua reported quoting Xi. The two men are expected to continue discussions over tea and a walk in the park, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Putin and Xi declared a “no limits” partnership days before Putin sent his troops into Ukraine in February 2022. In March 2023, when Xi visited Moscow, he described a “new era” in the countries’ relationship, while in October, when Putin last visited Beijing, Xi spoke of the “deep friendship” between the two men.