Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will visit China on February 28 for a state visit, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Saturday.
Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, with Belarus dependent on its neighbour both financially and politically.
“At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko will pay a state visit to China from February 28 to March 2,” spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
Last September, Xi and Lukashenko announced an “all-weather” strategic partnership, when they met in the Uzbek city of Samarkand.
A year ago, Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine and Russia, allowed Russia to use its territory as a launchpad for its attack on Ukraine. Lukashenko said earlier this month that Belarus was ready to do so again.
Kyiv has voiced concerns for months that Belarus could join the war on Russia’s side, a potential threat that has forced it to divert troops to defend the north of Ukraine while waging war with Russia in the east and south.
In a phone call on Friday, Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang told his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Aleinik that Beijing was willing to work with Minsk to deepen mutual political trust, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
China will also continue to support Belarus in maintaining its national stability, and will oppose attempts by “external forces” to interfere in its internal affairs or impose “illegal” unilateral sanctions on Minsk, Qin told Aleinik.
Separately on Friday, Lukashenko held a long conversation with his Russian counterpart Putin, according to a social media channel linked to the Belarussian leader’s press service, without giving details.
The Kremlin has yet to provide any statement about the conversation.