Kremlin: Putin will meet Xi in person on Thursday

Russia's presidential office says President Vladimir Putin will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on Thursday.

It says the meeting will take place on the sidelines of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to be held in the Central Asian country. The organization is a security and economic framework led by China and Russia.

This will be the first time the two leaders meet in person since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Tuesday that Beijing had struck a "balanced approach" toward the "Ukraine crisis."

He said China "clearly understands the reasons that forced Russia to launch its military operation." He added that this issue will be thoroughly discussed during the upcoming meeting.

Putin apparently hopes to confirm military and economic ties with China, at a time when Western nations have stepped up their sanctions and the Russian military is facing heavy counterattacks from Ukraine in the eastern part of the country.

Xi is believed to be hoping to produce diplomatic achievements at the summit, before the Communist Party National Congress next month. He is expected to seek an unprecedented third term as party leader at the Congress.

Russia's presidential office says Putin will also meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan separately on the sidelines.

Putin is expected to discuss exports of farm products from Ukraine with Erdogan. The Turkish president has acted as mediator between Russia and Ukraine.

Putin is also scheduled to meet Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Iran is expected to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Analysts say Putin hopes to enhance ties with friendly nations amid the escalating confrontation with the West.