Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly noted that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had "questions and concerns" about the War in Ukraine during a September 15 meeting between the two men in Uzbekistan. Such a public acknowledgment of Chinese concerns raised eyebrows at the U.S. State Department.

Putin's statement was "a notable, if cryptic, admission" that he did not have the unconditional support of the Chinese president, The New York Times observed. The paper noted that Xi made no reference to Ukraine in his public remarks.

"What is striking is President Putin’s apparent admission, at least as stated in the media, that President Xi has concerns about Russia’s war against Ukraine," said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price at a press briefing later that day.

"It’s not surprising that the PRC (People's Republic of China) apparently has such concerns. It is somewhat curious that President Putin would be the one to admit it to admit it so openly," Price added.

A 'deepening relationship' between Russia and China

He said the U.S. government still believed that China was not furnishing Russia with military assistance, but there was a "deepening relationship" between the two countries. Price's remarks can be found in their entirety on the State Department website.

Retweeting a video of Putin's remarks, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said, "This is remarkable. Xi is not supporting Putin. No weapons, no ammo, no chips, no real words of solidarity.

Just a willingness to buy Russian energy at very discounted prices."

Chinese dissident artist Badiucao tweeted, "Putin told Xi he understands Xi's concern over Ukraine.

Make no mistake, Xi's concern is not about the justification of the invasion but why Russia is failing the invasion. This failure will overshadow his plan for invading Taiwan."

China offers support for shared 'core interests'

The Chinese Xinhua news agency said Xi had expressed his willingness to cooperate with Russia in matters involving their “core interests.” Xinhua quoted Xi as observing that the two countries had “maintained effective strategic communication” since the start of 2022.

Xi was also quoted as saying China would work with Russia to "play a leading role in injecting stability into a world of change and disorder."

Putin wishes Xi a successful congress

Xinhua noted that Putin had wished the Chinese Communist Party a successful 20th National Congress. CNN has reported that Xi was expected to be given a third presidential term at the congress which was set to begin on October 16.

The Guardian noted that the meeting between Putin and Xi had taken place at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. It was Xi's first trip outside of China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the paper said.

The Guardian noted that Putin had expressed support for China's position on Taiwan and had criticized American actions in the waters between China and Taiwan.