China will dispatch a special envoy to Ukraine and “other countries” following the first phone call between President Xi Jinping and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky since the start of the Russian invasion.
In the nearly hour-long phone call, Xi told Zelensky that “talks and negotiation” were the “only way out” of the war between Russia and Ukraine…
During Wednesday’s call, Xi pledged long-term cooperation with Ukraine and said mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity was the foundation of China-Ukraine relations. He did not mention the invasion or name Russia at all.
Zelensky, who initiated the call, described it as “long and meaningful” and said it would “give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations”, according to a message posted on Twitter
In a statement on his official Telegram page, Zelensky said: “Particular attention was paid to the ways of possible cooperation to establish a just and sustainable peace for Ukraine.
“Peace must be just and sustainable, based on the principles of international law and respect for the UN Charter. There can be no peace at the expense of territorial compromises.”
John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said it was too soon to tell if the call would lead to a peace proposal.
“The call may have more symbolic significance and substance, but it’s very important,” said Huang Jing, director of the Institute of the US and Pacific Studies at Shanghai International Studies University.
“It means China is willing to get involved in the Ukrainian crisis, but it remains to be seen when and how”.
Zelensky and Xi speak in first call since Russia invasion of Ukraine
Dave Lawler, AXIOS April 26, 2023
It was the first known call between Xi and Zelensky since Russia invaded Ukraine. Xi has offered himself as a mediator in the conflict, but he made a lengthy state visit to Moscow and has offered diplomatic cover for the invasion.
Ukraine and its European backers had been encouraging Xi to make this call for months, partially in hopes he'll maintain his quasi-neutrality rather than moving to arm Russia.
Xi appealed for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and plans to send an envoy to Kyiv to discuss that issue, according to Chinese state media,
Zelenskyy and Xi Jinping in first conversation since Russian invasion
April 26, 2023
The Ukrainian president described the phone call as “long and substantive.”
“I trust it (the conversation) and appointing a new ambassador to China will be an impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” said Zelenskyy.
On the same day, he appointed former Minister for Strategic Industry, Pavlo Ryabikin, as Ukraine’s new Ambassador to China.
The talk also encompassed Sino-Ukrainian economic and trade ties.
The long awaited Zelensky-Xi conversation on peace negotiation to end Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine as transpired. There are many accounts of this conversation which lasted an hour, but all are way short of an hour in details.
- The call last one hour and was initiated by Zelensky
- The two leaders discussed Xi’s 12 point pan and Zelensky’s 10 point plan
- Xi explicitly did not mention Russia, Zelensky’s mentions are not clear on Russia
- Xi emphasized the need for peace and highlighted that total deaths exceed 325,000 dead.
- Zelensky highlighted that Ukraine was defending its way of life and no territory for peace
- Zelensky filled the China Diplomat position vacant since Feb 2021.
- Xi appointed a special envoy to meets with various countries and begin China’s peace effort
- Economic relations were discussed, China was Ukraine's larges trading partner pre Feb 24, 2023
- US and EU responses were positive but muted
The fact that Xi spoke to Ukraine before dispatching his envoy is significant because of Ukraine’s insistence on not trading its territory for peace. After this conversation, President Zelensky can rest in confidence that Xi understands Ukraine’s position on its territorial integrity.
Other that, the implied consultation with Russia given Chinese Defense Minister General Li Shangfu visited Russia for four days last week and the conflict was discussed but not report on the discussions have been published.
A successful spring may be the difference of the conflict ending by year-end 2023 and a long, grinding war of attrition.