Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to speak with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky for the first time since Russia invaded its sovereign neighbor more than a year ago, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.
The meeting, which is expected to take place virtually, is likely to occur after Xi’s expected visit to Russia next week to meet in person with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Xi, who was awarded an unprecedented third five-year term last week, appears to be looking to play more of a role in mediating an end to the war in Ukraine.
On February 24, marking one year since the war began, China’s Foreign Ministry in a vaguely worded proposal called for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, and for peace talks to resume.
Sources meanwhile tell the Journal that Xi is considering visiting other European countries as part of his trip to Russia, though his final schedule has not yet been confirmed.
An increase in China’s diplomatic clout could offer potential leverage for Xi amid heightened tensions with the U.S. Just last week President Xi accused the U.S. of a Cold War-style campaign to implement an “all-round containment, encirclement and suppression” against China.
The U.S. meanwhile has cautioned China against any plans it might have to send weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine.
President Biden has said the U.S. competes with China but doesn’t want conflict. “We’re not looking for a new Cold War,” Biden said last month—adding, “But I make no apologies, and we will compete.”