Xi & Zelensky talk
Xi & Zelensky Hold “Long & Meaningful” Call In 1st Since War Began
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have held a phone call Wednesday, which is the first time the two leaders have spoken since the start of the Russian-Ukraine war.
Zelensky confirmed the “long and meaningful” conversation in a statement, saying “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.”
There has long been a Chinese embassy and consulates in Ukraine, but it appears both sides want a fresh start in relations. It’s further being reported that they agreed that “China would send a special representative to Ukraine to hold talks with all parties on resolving the ‘crisis'”.
During the call, references were made to the possibility of future negotiations. Beijing has been putting itself forth as possible mediator, given Xi’s 12-point peace plan published in late February, but which has yet to gain traction either with Moscow or Kiev. According to more from Bloomberg, based on call readout statements from both sides:
- Xi says negotiations are only solution for the war in Ukraine
- Xi says China willing to boost ties with Ukraine
- The phone call between Xi and Zelenskiy shows that China attaches importance to growing its relationship with Ukraine, Yu Jun, an official at the Foreign Ministry, says at a briefing in Beijing
- China is highly concerned about humanitarian conditions in Ukraine
- China says no timetable yet for the special envoy’s visit to Ukraine
- China doesn’t say what other nations the Ukraine envoy will visit
Additionally, the timing of the phone call is a likely attempt to smooth over relations after Beijing’s ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, sparked intense controversy across Europe when in a weekend interview he questioned the sovereignty of post-Soviet countries, saying they don’t have “actual status” under international law.
China had quickly backtracked, calling statements of the lone ambassador merely a personal view. This after Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia summoned their Chinese ambassadors for an explanation. Statements of denunciation flew from other European officials and capitals as well.
Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs then issued the following clarification in follow-up on Monday: “China respects the sovereign status of the former soviet countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,” said spokesperson Mao Ning. Mao said Beijing’s position is “consistent and clear” but gave no indication whether Lu’s comment was considered incorrect.