In his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of the Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to visit the Chinese capital for a two-day forum this week marking a decade of China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI).

The move signaled how Moscow has increasingly turned to Beijing for trade and political support as it seeks to circumvent Western sanctions.

But the closely watched visit also focused on broader geopolitical issues, particularly the crisis in the Middle East, where Washington is struggling to find sympathy in the Arab world for Israel’s intense retaliatory attacks on Gaza.