Xi will go to Moscow with Ukraine questions looming

STORY: Chinese President Xi Jinping's much-anticipated trip to Russia to visit President Vladimir Putin will come as early as Monday, both governments have announced, with the big question of how this may impact the Ukraine war looming over the event.

China's foreign ministry said Friday (March 17) that the visit was based on, quote, "strategic mutual trust" and "neighborly friendship," and that China would uphold an objective and fair position on Ukraine.

The Kremlin says "important" bilateral documents will be signed, without elaborating.

Ukraine's allies in the U.S. and Europe have said that they are concerned China may start sending weapons to Russia that would be used in the conflict.

Xi's government has denied having any such plan, while criticizing Western arms shipments to Ukraine's military.

China's 12-point peace plan for the war is likely to be discussed and there are unconfirmed media reports that Xi may hold a phone call with Ukraine's President Zelenskiy after the trip.

Beijing has called for negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv but they've been met so far with a lukewarm reception. Russia has said Ukraine must accept the loss of four regions and Crimea, which it forcibly annexed in 2014.

China is a big buyer of Ukrainian grain.

But its alliance with Russia has also tightened in the wake of the war, with China exercising an increasingly dominant position between the two.

Their trade relationship has also increased as Russia's economy grapples with Western sanctions.