Ukraine war Zelenskyy wants Xi Jinping to meet after Chinas

Ukraine war: Zelenskyy wants Xi Jinping to meet after China’s peace plan

  • By George Wright & Jaroslav Lukiv
  • BBC News

February 24, 2023

Updated 3 hours ago

Image source, AFP via Getty Images

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Zelenskyi said victory ‘will inevitably await us’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that he will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing’s proposals to end the war in Ukraine.

On the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, he said the proposal signals China’s involvement in the search for peace.

“I really want to believe that China will not supply arms to Russia,” he said.

China’s plan includes peace talks and respect for national sovereignty.

However, the 12-point document does not specifically say that Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and it also condemns the use of “unilateral sanctions,” seen as veiled criticism of Ukraine’s western allies.

The Chinese authorities have so far not publicly responded to Mr Zelensky’s call for a summit with Mr Xi.

Meanwhile, Russia welcomed the Chinese peace proposals. “We share Beijing’s views,” the Foreign Ministry said in Moscow.

Asked about the Chinese plan, US President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday: “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin applauds, so how could it be good?

“I didn’t see anything in the plan that would suggest there is anything that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia,” he added.

China appears to be siding with Russia, although it would like to find a way to save President Putin by arranging some sort of face-saving peace deal, says John Simpson, the BBC’s world affairs editor.

The Chinese proposals follow a visit by the country’s top diplomat Wang Yi to Moscow, where he met President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

After the talks, Mr Wang was quoted by China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency as saying Beijing stands ready to “deep political trust” and strengthen “strategic coordination” with Moscow.

Western officials gave the latest proposals a lukewarm reception. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Beijing “doesn’t have much credibility” because it “was unable to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

President Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and Russian troops made significant advances in the north, east, and south of Ukraine in the first few days.

However, the attack on the capital Kiev was soon repulsed and the Ukrainian military was later able to recapture large areas.

The conflict – the largest in Europe since World War II – has since turned into a grueling war of attrition.

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Watch: A year of war in Ukraine in 87 seconds

At a lengthy news conference in Kiev on Friday, Mr Zelensky also said that victory “will inevitably await us” if allies “deliver on their promises and deadlines”.

Poland said it has already delivered four German-made Leopard II tanks to Ukraine and is ready to deliver more. Germany has announced that it will provide 14 Leopard tanks, and Spain and Canada are also sending tanks.

The US – by far the largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine – has pledged to send 31 of its M1 Abrams tanks and Britain is providing 14 Challenger 2 tanks.

The Ukrainian leader added that his country failed to engage adequately with countries in Africa and Latin America after many nations on those continents abstained in a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

“We haven’t worked well for many years, we haven’t been paying attention, I think that’s a big mistake,” he said.

Asked if he could name his worst moment of the war so far, Mr Zelensky said of Bucha, a town outside of Kiev where Russian troops are accused of killing civilians early in the war. The small town was under Russian control until last April when Ukrainian troops fought back to retake it.

“What I saw. It was terrible,” said Zelenskyy, visibly touched.

The US marked a year since Russia invaded Ukraine by announcing a new set of sanctions against Russia and new aid to Ukraine.

The latest restrictions target more than 100 companies in Russia and around the world, including banks and defense equipment suppliers. The US said it wants to stop those helping Russia from exploiting loopholes to obtain sanctioned material.

The new White House round of aid to Ukraine is valued at $12 billion (£10 billion), with $2 billion from the Defense Department, including ammunition and drones, and $10 billion from the State Department, including budget support for the Ukrainian government.

Another $550 million will be delivered to both Ukraine and neighboring Moldova to strengthen their energy infrastructure.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and has been severely affected by the war. Its leaders have been warning for several weeks that Russia plans to take power.

On Friday, the EU also approved its 10th round of sanctions against Russia, imposing restrictions on technologies that have dual civilian and military uses.