UPDATE 1-Putin and Xi to discuss ‘aggressive’ talk from U.S. and NATO, Kremlin says

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MOSCOW, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss tensions in Europe and “aggressive” U.S. and NATO rhetoric during a video call on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

The conversation will take place at a moment of high tension in both countries’ relations with the West, with Beijing under pressure over human rights and Moscow over its build-up of troops near the border with Ukraine.

“The situation in international affairs, especially on the European continent, is very, very tense right now and requires discussion between allies,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, referring to Moscow and Beijing.

“We see very, very aggressive rhetoric on the NATO and U.S. side, and this requires discussion between us and the Chinese.”

Russia has cultivated closer ties with China as its relations with the West have worsened, and Putin has used the partnership as a way of balancing U.S. influence while striking lucrative deals, especially on energy. He and Xi this year agreed to extend a 20-year friendship and cooperation treaty.

Peskov said they would hold a long conversation with a broad agenda including energy, trade and investment.

Their discussion will take place eight days after a Russia-U.S. video call in which U.S. President Joe Biden warned Putin against invading Ukraine and Putin told him Russia needed legally binding security guarantees from the West. (Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Writing by Tom Balmforth and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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