Russia’s ties with China are the “best in history”, President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, as he said Moscow would seek to strengthen military cooperation with Beijing.

The two leaders spoke via video link on Friday, and Putin said he was expecting Xi to make a state visit to Moscow in 2023.

If it were to take place, it would be a public show of solidarity by Beijing amid Moscow’s flailing military campaign in Ukraine.

Putin said: “We are expecting you, dear Mr chairman, dear friend, we are expecting you next spring on a state visit to Moscow.”

Speaking for about eight minutes, Putin said Russia-China relations were growing in importance as a stabilising factor, and that he aimed to deepen military cooperation between the two countries.

In a response that lasted about a quarter as long, Xi said China was ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia

Earlier this month, Russia and China conducted joint naval drills, which Russia’s army chief described as a response to the “aggressive” US military posturing in the Asia-Pacific region.