Illustration photo – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi (pictured) spoke at a press conference on April 20, 2023 in Kyiv.
Kyiv/Beijing – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping today, it was their first contact since the Russian attack on Ukraine last February. According to state media, the Chinese leader called on Zelensky to negotiate with Moscow, which he says is the only way out of the conflict with Russia. In connection with the long-awaited call, China also announced that it intends to send a special diplomatic mission to Ukraine in the near future. On the other hand, according to Zelensky, Kiev appoints an ambassador in Beijing. After the phone call, Russia criticized Kiev for its alleged unwillingness to negotiate peace.
“I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping. I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of the Ukrainian ambassador to China, will be a strong impetus for the development of our bilateral relations,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.
“The only feasible way out is negotiation,” Chinese state television CCTV said in a report about the phone call between the two statesmen, according to the AP.
She also repeated the Chinese position that “there are no winners in a nuclear war”. “All parties involved should maintain calm and restraint when dealing with the nuclear issue, and really look to the future and destiny of themselves and the whole of humanity, and work together to manage the crisis,” CCTV said. In recent months, Russia has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons if its existence is threatened.
The head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Yu Jun, said according to Reuters that China would send a special delegation to Ukraine and other countries to seek “a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis”. He also said that Siho's conversation with Zelenskyi proves China's “objective and impartial attitude” to international issues, calling Ukraine a “strategic partner” of China.
In February, China released its 12-point plan to end the war in Ukraine, which calls for a comprehensive ceasefire. He also subscribes to the principle of “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries”, as well as the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions. Zelenskyi previously stated that Kyiv should cooperate with Beijing on the peace plan, although he also pointed out that he disagrees with some points. Kyiv's agreement to the ceasefire is conditional on the withdrawal of Russian troops to the 1991 borders, which Moscow considers impossible.
This is the first known, publicly announced meeting between the two men since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Earlier this month, Si said he was willing to talk to Zelensky, who had previously repeatedly asked him for talks and invited him to visit of Ukraine. In March, Xi visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Beijing did not recognize the Russian annexation of four occupied regions in the south and east of Ukraine last year, as well as the annexation of the Crimean peninsula to Russia in 2014. However, China did not condemn the Russian invasion and in has intensified cooperation with Moscow in recent months, the AFP agency reminds.
Today, in response to a phone call, Russian diplomacy accused Ukraine of “undermining the peace initiative” together with its Western allies by rejecting any reasonable attempts at political and diplomatic settling the crisis. “We note the readiness of the Chinese side to seek the start of negotiations,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marija Zakharova in an address to Beijing.