Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, and China's President Xi Jinping review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Xijiao State Guesthouse Tuesday. Pic: AP.

SHANGHAI (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing diplomatic isolation in the West over Ukraine, has received a boost on an official visit to China where he hopes to expand his country’s dealings with Asia.

Putin met Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the start of a two-day conference on Asian security in Shanghai.

China is negotiating to buy Russian natural gas in a deal that could give Moscow an economic win at a time when Washington and the European Union have imposed asset freezes and visa bans on some of its companies and officials over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

The gas deal had been stalled due to a disagreement over price. But analysts say they expect an agreement to be signed during Putin’s visit.