Putin welcomes Xi to Kremlin for formal talks

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STORY: The two presidents shook hands and stood side by side for the playing of the national anthems before heading into the talks.

Putin and Xi discussed Beijing's proposal for a ceasefire in Ukraine, while displaying a warm friendship forged on a mutual rivalry with the West.

Xi's visit is a boost to Moscow as it struggles to make ground in its year-long war on Ukraine. It was criticized by Washington as providing "diplomatic cover" for Putin and for the war that has killed tens of thousands of people.

While China has sought to cast itself as a potential peace-maker in the conflict, the visit underlined an ever-closer relationship between Moscow and Beijing.