Russian leader Vladimir Putin told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday he was keen to ramp up military cooperation and hailed the two countries’ efforts to counter Western influence. Battered by unprecedented Western sanctions over Moscow’s assault against Ukraine, Putin has hoped to strengthen political and military ties with China. Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine is a sensitive issue for Beijing. China has sought to position itself as neutral over the conflict but has offered diplomatic backing to its strategic ally Russia. “We aim to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China,” Putin told Xi by video link at the start of the talks, calling the Chinese leader a “dear friend”. The Kremlin chief also hailed the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to counter “unprecedented Western pressure and provocations”. “In the context of growing geopolitical tensions, the importance is growing of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership as a stabilising factor,” Putin said. “We share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape,” he added. As the West seeks to cut reliance on Russian oil and gas, Putin has looked to energy markets in Asia. “Russia has become one of the leaders when it comes to oil exports to China,” Putin said. The Russian leader said he was expecting Xi in Moscow on a state visit next spring.