(Moscow) Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu hailed “strong” ties with Moscow on Sunday during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.

“We have very strong ties, which go beyond the military-political alliances of the Cold War era” and are “very stable”, he said during this meeting broadcast on Russian television, according to their translation .

He added that Russia-China relations had “already entered a new era”.

“This is my first overseas visit since taking office as Minister of Defence. I chose Russia specifically, to emphasize the special nature and strategic importance of our bilateral relationship,” Li added.

During the meeting, which was also attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin praised the military cooperation between the two countries.

“We actively work through military departments, regularly exchange useful information, cooperate in the field of military-technical cooperation and conduct joint exercises,” Putin said.

“This is undoubtedly another important area that reinforces the nature […] of our relationship,” he added.

Li’s visit to Russia, which is scheduled to last until April 19, comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March. During this summit, MM. Putin and Xi had displayed their good understanding, posing as strategic allies determined to resist American hegemonism.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Beijing has declared itself officially neutral, without ever condemning the Russian invasion. Mr. Xi never spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.