The need for increased cooperation between Russia and China was emphasized Tuesday by Russian legislators during a top Beijing official’s visit to Moscow. The politicians also praised China for its public condemnation of the European Union and the United States’ economic sanctions against Russia for its purported involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict.

“Taking into consideration the complex processes now happening in the world, we are interested in further strengthening of our cooperation on the international arena,” said Valentina Matviyenko, a leading member of Russia’s upper house, as quoted by Russian outlet TASS. As the eastern Ukraine dispute continues on the international stage, “The Russian-Chinese ties show that this is a key factor for stability, security, the establishment of polycentric world and the implementation of mechanisms of the rule of international law,” she added.

Meanwhile, Russian parliamentary leader Sergey Naryshkin asserted the need for increased economic ties between the two nations. "Let me say immediately that we decisively support Chinese investments in Russia. They are needed in many spheres of our economy, including transport infrastructure, various machine-building sectors, intensive timber processing, the production of building materials and so on," he said.

China’s Foreign Ministry defended Russia Monday during the annual G-7 Summit in Germany, from which Moscow was excluded due to its annexation of Crimea early last year and purported support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The European Union and the United States enacted sweeping economic sanctions against Russia late last year in response to its military activity and have vowed to keep sanctions in place until satisfactory level of peace was achieved in Ukraine. China criticized the sanctions as counterproductive.

“As for Ukraine, we have repeatedly voiced our stance on sanctions and the threats of their use,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a press conference. “We are sure that the crisis in Ukraine can be resolved only through a dialogue.

Ukraine’s government and pro-Russia rebel leaders reached a peace agreement last February to cease hostilities in eastern Ukraine and remove heavy weapons from the conflict’s front lines. More than 6,400 people have died in fighting since early 2014. Speaking at the G-7 summit Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Russia’s apparent direct support of the separatists and said sanctions will remain in place.

“Ultimately, this is going to be an issue for Mr. Putin,” Obama said, according to CNN. “He’s got to make a decision: Does he continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrongheaded desire to re-create the glories of the Soviet empire? Or does he recognize that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?”