China promised to publish a document proposing a “political solution” to the Russia-Ukraine war this week, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
China’s top diplomat Wang Yi made the announcement earlier this week at the Munich Security Conference.
He said the document will highlight an approach that aims for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, stand against nuclear war or endangering the security of civil nuclear facilities, and respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, according to state media.
“We do not add fuel to the fire, and we are against reaping benefits from this crisis… This warfare must not continue,” he said.
Here’s what we know so far:
China: ‘Impartial and constructive’
Wang met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Moscow, where the two discussed Chinese-Russian ties and the Ukraine crisis.
“China will, as it always has, firmly adhere to an objective and impartial stance, and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the [Ukraine] crisis,” state news agency Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday: “On the Ukraine issue… China will continue to promote peace talks, contribute its ideas for a political settlement of the crisis, and join the international community to promote dialogue and consultation, address the concerns of all parties and seek common security.”
He added: “On the Ukraine issue, China always stands on the side of peace. We have followed the four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine as outlined by President Xi Jinping, taken an objective and just position, and worked actively to promote peace talks.”
Russia denies: ‘No such talk’
Moscow’s official stance was to deny any talks involving a plan for peacefully resolving the conflict. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We note statements by some Western politicians and media reports regarding some kind of ‘Chinese peace plan’. As usual, they distort the real picture.”
“The Chinese partners briefed us on their views on the root causes of the Ukrainian crisis, as well as approaches to its political settlement. There was no talk of any separate plan,” she added.
Putin had earlier on Wednesday met with Wang. Wang said Beijing was ready to take on a “constructive” role in Ukraine diplomacy, and Putin welcomed China taking on an active role and appreciated its “balanced approach”.
Ukraine: Must not cross ‘red lines’
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wang shared “key points of China’s ‘peace plan’” when they met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier this week, Ukrainian Interfax reported.
Kuleba said Kyiv was open to conversation and new ideas, however, Ukraine wouldn’t draw any conclusions before receiving the full text of the plan and studying all its details. He also stressed that any plan must not cross Ukrainian “red lines”.
“We are ready to talk with those who have ideas, other ideas which can help us achieve this goal… The red lines are the principles of the UN charter, including respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine… There will be no bargaining with any Ukrainian territories. The president [Volodymyr Zelenskyy] has already clearly said that”, he added.
West is watching warily
The West – US, EU and NATO – met the Chinese announcement with a lot of skepticism. Western leaders believe this to be a veiled attempt by Beijing to provide material support to its close ally Moscow, at a period when tensions between the West and both countries are at an all-time high.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Wang on Saturday and “warned about the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion.”
Blinken said in an interview on Sunday: “We’ve been watching this very, very closely. And for the most part, China has been engaged in providing rhetorical, political, diplomatic support to Russia, but we have information that gives us concern that they are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine. And it was important for me to share very clearly with Wang Yi that this would be a serious problem.”
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen told CNN: “We need more proof that China isn’t working with Russia, and we are not seeing that now.”
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also expressed concern that China might arm Russia against Ukraine. “We are also increasingly concerned that China may be planning to provide lethal support for Russia’s war.”
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