Russia seeks 'new level' of China ties

A child holds national flags of Russia and China prior to a welcoming ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday that it wanted to take ties with China to a "new level" and was looking forward to face-to-face talks with Beijing's leadership as a Russian newspaper reported that China's top diplomat would visit Moscow in February.

"We are convinced that the potential for Russian-Chinese bilateral cooperation is still far from exhausted," Russia's foreign ministry said.

Russia aims to reach its target of $200 billion worth of trade between the two countries ahead of schedule and to "significantly deepen" its ties with Beijing, it said.

The deepening "no limits" partnership between the rising superpower of China and the natural resources titan of Russia is being watched by the West with some anxiety, though it is unclear just how deep the partnership is.

China has refrained from condemning Russia's operation against Ukraine or calling it an "invasion" in line with the Kremlin which casts the war as "a special military operation".

After the West imposed the most severe sanctions in modern history on Moscow due to the war in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin says Russia is turning towards Asia - and China in particular - after centuries of looking to the West as the crucible of economic growth, technology and war.

The Russian foreign ministry's comments came shortly after Russia's Vedomosti newspaper reported that China's chief diplomat Wang Yi was set to visit Moscow in February.

According to the newspaper, Wang may visit Putin during his stay. The purpose of Wang's visit is unclear but may be related to preparations for an upcoming visit to Russia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, it added.

When asked about the potential visit by Wang Yi, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said during a regular briefing that she was not yet aware of such a meeting.

(Writing by Caleb Davis; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)