Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks by Phone with Xi Jinping

April 26, 2023

Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky said Wednesday he had spoken by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping,” Zelensky tweeted. “I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations.”

It was the first time to pair had spoken directly to each other since Russia invaded Ukraine more than 14 months ago.

The call lasted almost an hour, according to a Ukrainian government post on Telegram.

China’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed the conversation. Spokesperson Hua Chunying added that China plans to send “the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs to Ukraine and other countries to have in-depth communication with all parties on political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

A conversation between Xi and Zelensky has been anticipated for weeks, following the Chinese leader’s three-day visit to Moscow in March, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the pair touted their friendship.

At the time, Xi had suggested he would speak to Zelensky virtually, but such a conversation in that forum still has not happened. 

Wednesday’s phone call also comes as Xi has been pushing a Chinese-brokered peace plan for Ukraine, saying it “reflects the broadest common understanding of the international community on the crisis.” That plan was quickly dismissed by Western officials as one-sided in Russia’s favor.

China officially took a neutral stance in the war in February 2022 ahead of Russia’s invasion. However, China and Russia struck a “no limits” partnership while Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting Beijing for the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

This month, leaked classified Pentagon documents revealed a top-secret U.S. intel summary dated February 23 that said China approved the provision of lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine but wanted any shipments to remain a secret. This is in contradiction to China’s claims that it would not sell weapons to either side in the Ukraine-Russia War.

China, and Xi in particular, have been acting in recent months to increase the nation’s diplomatic profile on the world stage. Such heightened diplomatic clout could offer potential leverage for Xi amid tensions between China and the U.S.

According to Chinese state media, Xi said to Zelensky on Wednesday, “We hope all parties deeply reflect on the Ukraine crisis, and through dialogue, together seek the path of long-term stability and peace for Europe.”

PHOTO: Voldoymyr Zelensky, Xi Jinping

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