Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his first visit to Russia since the latter initiated the invasion of Ukraine over a year ago. The visit symbolizes Beijing’s support for Moscow amidst growing concerns in Western capitals about the deepening partnership between the two nations amid the ongoing conflict in Europe.

Xi’s trip to Moscow will also be his first foreign visit since securing an unprecedented third term as president during China’s annual rubber-stamp legislature meeting last week. Both Beijing and the Kremlin confirmed the visit, with China’s Foreign Ministry stating that it would take place from Monday to Wednesday at Putin’s invitation. The war in Ukraine will be a central topic of discussion.

The two leaders plan to discuss the further development of their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation, as well as to sign several crucial bilateral documents. The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, announced that Xi and Putin would begin their meetings with a one-on-one conversation followed by an informal lunch, with negotiations set for Tuesday.

China has been attempting to present itself as a neutral peace broker in the Ukraine crisis, but its growing ties with Russia and refusal to condemn the invasion have been met with skepticism by Western leaders. The upcoming visit will be closely watched by the US for signs of China providing weapons to Russia, which could potentially prolong the conflict and favor Putin.