As Western nations attempt to forecast Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions toward Ukraine, China may have the best insight: Putin is scheduled to visit Beijing for the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies on Friday, as well as discussions with his Chinese counterpart.

Putin’s visit shines a focus on the China-Russia relationship, which has grown significantly in recent years, reflecting their tight ties during the start of the Cold War. Both Beijing and Moscow consider the relationship as critical to challenging the United States’ dominance of the globe, since they share resources and technology and divide Western governments’ attention.

Putin will meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing for the first time in over two years, a long-awaited chance for them to address Ukraine and other concerns. According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the conference will be a “important event in world affairs.” Last week, the US State Department urged Beijing to use its clout with Russia to press for a diplomatic solution to Moscow’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders.

When China hosted the Olympics in 2008, Russia invaded Georgia while Putin was in town for the Opening Ceremonies. Analysts believe a similar action cannot be ruled out, however the strengthening of the China-Russia alliance since would make Putin wary of upsetting his Chinese hosts.

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