Ukraine war

Xi holds first talks with Zelenskyy since Russian invasion

Xi attends a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their recent talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Photo: Sputnik/Vladimir Astapkovich/Kremlin via Reuters)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the first time since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with Beijing announcing its intention to send an envoy to Kyiv to act as a mediator to reach a "political settlement".

Wednesday's phone conversation lasted nearly an hour and was "extensive and meaningful," according to the president of Ukraine.

"I believe that this call, along with the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China, will give a strong boost to the development of our bilateral relations," tweeted Zelenskyy.

The first known wartime phone call between the two leaders occurred after both Xi and Zelenskyy expressed a willingness to communicate with one another following Xi's March visit to Moscow.

The Chinese foreign ministry stated in a statement that Beijing's "core position is to facilitate peace talks" and that a former ambassador to Russia would travel to Ukraine to pursue a "political settlement."

The statement set a positive tone, acknowledging Kyiv's insistence that its territory cannot be divided by Russia's annexations and that Beijing values its longstanding ties with Ukraine.

Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, praised China's approach while condemning Ukraine's.

While Zakharova lauded Beijing's "willingness to work toward establishing a [peace] negotiations process," she stated that Kyiv had rejected "any reasonable initiatives aimed at a settlement."

The White House of the United States welcomed the phone call between the two leaders but stated that it was too early to determine if it would result in a peace agreement.

John Kirby, a United States national security spokesperson, characterized the contact as positive.

"Right now, I do not believe this will result in a significant peace movement, plan, or proposal."

Mediator Aspirations

Charles Stratford of Al Jazeera reported from Kyiv that the phone call was "extremely significant."

"A statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is extremely detailed," Stratford said.

"President Xi praised President Zelenskyy's desire for bilateral relations. The primary focus, however, is on the war... China's fundamental position is to facilitate a peaceful solution."

China asserts that it is in a position to mediate the conflict because it has not adopted a side.

"What China has done to assist in resolving the Ukraine crisis has been above board," said Yu Jun, the deputy director of the Eurasian Department of the foreign ministry.

According to Western nations, China's 12-point peace plan is too vague, offers no clear path to end the conflict, and could be used by Putin to promote a cease-fire that would leave his forces in control of occupied territory while they regroup.

This week, European nations expressed alarm after China's ambassador to France stated that states like Ukraine, which gained independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, "have no actual status in international law."

Beijing maintained its stance on the independence of ex-Soviet republics.

Publish : 2023-04-27 07:27:00

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