China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has told his Ukrainian counterpart that Beijing is concerned about the war with Russia spinning out of control and urged talks on a political solution with Moscow.
Qin told Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that China wanted to see peace negotiations advance, during a rare phone conversation on Thursday, the foreign ministry in Beijing said in a statement.
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China “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue”, Qin told Kuleba, according to the statement.
The minister also said China “has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks”, according to the statement.
Kuleba later tweeted that he and Qin “discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity” and that he had “underscored” the importance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s “Peace Formula” for ending Russia’s war on Ukraine.
During my call with China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang today, we discussed the significance of the principle of territorial integrity. I underscored the importance of @ZelenskyyUa’s Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 16, 2023
Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula includes, among other elements, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, on which there will be no “negotiations”, the withdrawal of all Russian troops, cessation of all hostilities and the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.
China’s rare engagement in the war on Ukraine on Thursday follows Beijing’s recently-proposed 12-point roadmap for a “political settlement of the Ukraine crisis”.
China has burnished its credentials as an independent mediator after hosting talks last week at which longtime antagonists Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore full diplomatic relations.
But Beijing’s new-found interest in seeing an end to the more than a year-long war in Ukraine must deal with China’s 2022 declaration of a “no-limits” friendship with Russia. China has also refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while at the same time declaring that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected.
Beijing has however condemned Western sanctions on Russia and accused NATO and the United States of provoking Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
At a March 7 news conference, Foreign Minister Qin insinuated that the US was undermining efforts for peace in Ukraine to extend the conflict for its own benefit.
“There seems to be an invisible hand pushing for the protraction and escalation of the conflict and using the Ukraine crisis to serve a certain geopolitical agenda,” he said.
The foreign ministry made no mention of Qin repeating such remarks to Kuleba or of raising China’s peace roadmap during Thursday’s phone conversation.
China’s President Xi Jinping is due to visit Russia possibly as early as next week, although neither side has confirmed dates for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.