China pushes for ceasefire in Ukraine conflict

China pushes for ceasefire in Ukraine conflict
# 24 February 2023 09:06 (UTC +04:00)

China has called for a ceasefire in the war in Ukraine and a return to negotiations as Beijing attempts to position itself as a peacemaker in the conflict on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, APA reports citing the Financial Times.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday released a 12-point plan for the “political settlement” to the war in Ukraine, though many of the measures reiterated Beijing’s standard talking points on the conflict.

Chinese diplomats have engaged in a difficult balancing act over the war, straining to appear neutral despite its close ties to Moscow while blaming Washington and Nato for provoking the conflict.

“Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis,” the foreign ministry said. “All efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported.”

Beijing’s call for a ceasefire is unlikely to receive support in Kyiv until Russia withdraws from huge swaths of territories it has occupied, an issue that was not addressed in the 12-point position paper.

Russian president Vladimir Putin similarly insisted this week that the war threatened “the very existence of our country” in an address to the nation.

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi met Putin on Wednesday and appeared to make little headway in pushing peace proposals to resolve the conflict.

Beijing’s plan also said nuclear weapons must not be used in the conflict, nor their use threatened as Putin has done in the past. China also called for Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to be protected from fighting.

The peace plan also called for all parties to abide by the grain export agreement that allows Ukraine to export food products via the Black Sea. It demanded a halt to the use of sanctions not authorised by the UN Security Council, a reference to penalties imposed by the US and EU.

The peace proposal comes as Washington alleges that Beijing is considering sending arms and other lethal aid to Russia to bolster Putin’s war aims. A year into the conflict, Russian and Ukrainian forces are facing off in a series of bloody skirmishes in Ukraine’s east, with neither side having a clear upper hand.