China’s Foreign Minister has Phone Call with Ukraine Counterpart

March 16, 2023

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang spoke by phone in a rare call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on Thursday.

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, Qin told Kuleba that Beijing is concerned about Ukraine’s war with Russia spinning out of control, and urged talks to find a political solution. 

Qin further told Kuleba that China has “always upheld an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, has committed itself to promoting peace and advancing negotiations and calls on the international community to create conditions for peace talks,” according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement. 

The call follows a vaguely worded proposal by China’s Foreign Ministry on February 24, marking one year since the war began, calling for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine, and for peace talks to resume.

On Thursday Kuleba said he and Qin had discussed the “significance of the principle of territorial integrity” during the call.

“I underscored the importance of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s] Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, Beijing said President Xi Jinping plans to speak with Zelensky for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago. The meeting, which is expected to take place virtually, is likely to occur after Xi’s expected visit to Russia next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Xi is reportedly considering visiting other European countries as part of his trip to Russia—and expectations are growing that he might make a visit to Ukraine part of his travels—though his full schedule has not yet been confirmed. 

An increase in China’s diplomatic clout could offer potential leverage for Xi amid heightened tensions between China and 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. 

At a March 7 news conference, Qin insinuated that the U.S. was undermining peace efforts in order to extend the war for its own benefit, saying, “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.”

The U.S., meanwhile, has cautioned China against any plans it might have to send weapons to Russia.

Despite its stance of neutrality regarding the war in Ukraine, soon before Russia’s invasion China declared it had a “no-limits” friendship with Russia.

Roughly three hours before tweeting about his call with China’s Foreign Minister, Kuleba revealed he had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “about Ukraine’s Peace Formula and ways to expedite the delivery of artillery ammunition.”

Kuleba added, “We are working with the US and other partners around the clock to ensure that Ukraine has all of the ammunition we need for defense and counter-offensive operations.”

PHOTO: Qin Gang in 2019

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