Russian President Vladimir Putin denied on Sunday that Russia and China are working to establish a military alliance, stressing that military cooperation between the two countries is "transparent."

The remarks, broadcast by a Russian channel on Sunday, came days after Putin hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the Kremlin.

Presidents Putin and Xi affirmed friendship between the two countries and pledged to strengthen ties, including in the military field, during their meetings on March 20-21, at a time when Russia is struggling to make gains in its war in Ukraine, which it describes as a "special military operation."

Putin told state television: "We are not establishing any military alliance with China. Yes, we have cooperation in the field of military-technical interaction. We don't hide this."

"Everything is transparent, nothing is confidential."

China and Russia signed a "borderless" partnership agreement in early 2022, just weeks before Putin sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine and started the war. Beijing refrained from criticizing Putin's decision and promoted a plan for peace in Ukraine. The West has rejected Beijing's proposals as a ploy to give Putin more time to regroup his forces in Ukraine.

Washington recently said it feared Beijing could arm Russia, which China denies.

In his televised remarks, Putin rejected suggestions that Moscow's growing ties with Beijing in sectors such as energy and finance meant Russia had become overly dependent on China, saying these were the views of "jealous people."

"For decades, many have wanted to turn China against the Soviet Union and Russia, and vice versa," he said. We understand the world we live in. We really appreciate our mutual relations and the level they have reached in recent years."

"Global NATO"

Putin accused the United States and NATO of seeking a new "axis" that he said was somewhat similar to the alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II.

He added that Australia, New Zealand and South Korea were ready to join the "global NATO," and pointed to a defense pact signed by Britain and Japan earlier this year.

"For this reason, Western analysts talk about the West beginning to form a new axis similar to what was formed in the thirties by the fascist regimes of Germany, Italy and military Japan," Putin said, referring to a time when Japan was pursuing an ideology of military hegemony.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan and South Korea this year and stressed the importance of the alliance working closely with partners in the Indo-Pacific region. He also discussed rising tensions between the West and China and urged more military support for Ukraine.

Putin portrayed Russia's actions in Ukraine as a defensive response against the aggressive hostile West, likening it to Moscow's battles against Nazi German forces during World War II.

Kiev and its Western allies have dismissed these justifications as illogical, saying Moscow is seeking to seize territory and cripple Ukraine's ability to function as an independent state.