Putin says China's Xi is 'close friend', hails 'unprecedented' partnership with Beijing

Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia's relations with China were at an "unprecedented level" as he called China's President Xi Jinping a "close friend."

Moscow and Beijing signed a no-limits partnership just days before Russia launched its "special military operation" in Ukraine in February, and Russia has sought to forge closer political and economic ties with China in the face of Western sanctions.

(Reporting by Reuters)