For the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, achieving a long-standing desire of Kyiv that had been made public for months.
Zelensky indicated the significance of the opportunity to forge stronger ties with Russia’s most powerful ally by appointing a former cabinet minister as Ukraine’s next ambassador to Beijing, describing the hour-long phone discussion as “long and meaningful.”
According to Chinese official media, Xi informed Zelensky that China would send special representatives to Ukraine to hold talks with all parties seeking peace.
In a nighttime video speech, Zelensky stated that there was “an opportunity to use China’s political power to reinforce the principles and rules that peace should be built upon.”
He claimed that China and Ukraine share the same concern for the strength of national sovereignty and territorial integrity as the vast majority of people on earth.
Additionally, according to Zelensky, Xi had “words of support” for the agreement to extend the export of Ukrainian grain from its Black Sea ports. Moscow has stated that the agreement won’t be extended past May 18 unless the West relaxes restrictions on Russian exports of food and fertilizer.
The most influential leader, Xi, visited Moscow last month without condemning Russia’s invasion. Since February, he has advocated a 12-point peace proposal, which the West has met with skepticism but which Kyiv has tentatively embraced as a sign of Chinese involvement in putting an end to the war.
According to sources in the Chinese official media, Xi assured Zelensky that China would put its attention into advancing peace negotiations and work toward a ceasefire as soon as feasible.
“As a responsible major country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we will neither sit idly by, nor pour gasoline on the fire, much less seek to profit from it,” said Xi.
Although they appreciated the contact, the White House stated that it was too soon to say whether it would result in a peace agreement.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that during a trip to Beijing this month, Macron persuaded Xi to make the call with Zelensky.
WITHOUT PEACE TALKS
At this critical point in the 14-month conflict, Ukraine is ready to launch a counteroffensive against a Russian offensive that, despite fierce combat, gained only modest gains.
With Kiev demanding that Russia withdraw its forces and Moscow demanding that Ukraine acknowledge its claims to have annexed captured land, there are no signs of peace negotiations in the near future.
Zelensky stated in a Wednesday tweet that “territorial compromises cannot be made in the name of peace.”
“Within the boundaries established in 1991, the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored.”
Ukrainian government representatives have long pushed Beijing to use its clout in Russia to support a cease-fire.
Weeks before Putin gave the order to invade, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin inked a “no limits” partnership pact.
China has since opposed sanctions imposed on Moscow but has refrained from formally endorsing the invasion. Through the purchase of oil that can no longer be sold in Europe, China has also grown to be Russia’s largest trading partner.
After the call on Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, said: “We note the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process.”
Despite Beijing’s denials, Washington recently stated that it was concerned that China would supply Russia with weapons or ammunition.
China claims that as it has not chosen a side, it is in a position to assist in mediating.
According to Yu Jun, deputy director of the Eurasian section of the foreign ministry, “What China has done to help resolve the Ukraine crisis has been above board.”
Western nations claim that China’s peace offer is too nebulous, provides no clear way out of the conflict, and might be manipulated by Putin to support a cease-fire that would leave his soldiers in charge of occupied area while they reassemble.