Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Twitter post on Wednesday that he had held a “long and meaningful” phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This is the first time that the two leaders have spoken since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“I had a long and meaningful phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 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,” Zelensky said. 

His spokesman Sergiy Nykyforov said on Facebook that the two leaders had “an almost one-hour-long telephone conversation”.

What China said

Chinese state media broadcaster CCTV reported about the call and said that Xi told Zelensky that China has “always stood on the side of peace”.

“On the issue of the Ukraine crisis, China has always stood on the side of peace and its core position is to promote peace talks,” CCTV reported Xi as saying during the phone call.

China also said that it will send a delegation to Ukraine for a “political settlement” of crisis. 

“The Chinese side will send a special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs to visit Ukraine and other countries to conduct in-depth communication with all parties for a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,” China’s foreign ministry said at a press conference.

Moscow reacts

Reacting to the call, Moscow accused Kyiv of undermining any peace attempts.  

“The Ukrainian authorities and their Western minders have already shown their ability to mess up any peace initiatives,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Moscow further noted “the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process.”

“We see a broad consonance in our approach and in the provisions in the paper” published by China, Russia’s foreign ministry said, referring to the 12-point paper proposed by China in which it calls for a “political settlement”.

Russia accused Kyiv of rejecting “any sensible initiatives aimed at a political and diplomatic settlement.”

“The eventual consent to negotiations is conditioned by ultimatums with obviously unrealistic demands,” it said.

Readout of the call

CCTV also reported a readout of the call, in which Xi said, China “will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit”. 

“When dealing with the nuclear issue, all parties concerned should remain calm and restrained, truly focus on the future and destiny of themselves and all mankind, and jointly manage and control the crisis,” Xi said.

China’s peace plan

Notably, China has claimed to have been neutral in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Beijing has called for peace on several occasions and had also offered a proposed peace plan.

In February Beijing unveiled a 12-point paper calling for a “political settlement” to the crisis in Ukraine. The document portrayed China as a neutral party and urged the two sides to enter into peace negotiations.  

However, China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion or call out Moscow publicly for the invasion. Chinese officials have regularly said that every country’s “legitimate” security concerns must be taken into account. It also accused NATO and the US of fueling the conflict.

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