During a meeting in Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba conveyed to China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, that Ukraine would not entertain any peace proposals that would result in territorial loss or a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that Kuleba discussed various approaches with Li to halt Russian aggression.
According to the statement, Foreign Minister Kuleba emphasized that achieving a “just peace” in Ukraine hinged upon upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kuleba asserted that Ukraine categorically rejects any suggestions that could lead to relinquishing its territories or temporarily suspending hostilities. The response from Li Hui to Kuleba’s remarks should have been disclosed. Li’s visit to Kyiv, which spanned Tuesday and Wednesday, aimed to advance Beijing-led negotiations for resolving the conflict.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry reported that during a meeting with a prominent Chinese envoy, Ukraine’s foreign minister clarified that Ukraine would reject any suggestions to end the war with Russia if they entailed territorial losses or conflict suspension.#Ukraine #China #war pic.twitter.com/FuyxtMUlfn
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) May 18, 2023
Li holds the highest diplomatic position among Chinese officials to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022. This visit occurred three weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Additionally, the Kyiv Independent media organization reported the appointment of a new Ukrainian ambassador to China on the same day. Prior to the Chinese envoy’s arrival, officials in Kyiv had cautioned against unnecessary mediation efforts.
Ukraine Stands Firm Against Compromises, Chinese Envoy Seeks Political Solutions
Ukraine’s anonymous senior official firmly stated that reaching a compromise that would sacrifice Ukraine’s interests is an impractical approach to ending the war, as reported by the French news agency “Agence France-Presse.” The Chinese government stated that the envoy’s visit was to engage in dialogue with all relevant parties regarding the political resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.
Chinese President Xi, who positioned China as a neutral mediator and visited Moscow in March, has faced criticism for refraining from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent 15-month-long war. The Chinese envoy, Li, is now scheduled to travel to Moscow, as announced by Chinese authorities, followed by visits to Poland, Germany, and France. These visits aim to explore potential political solutions to the ongoing conflict.
It is noteworthy that China extended political support to Moscow throughout the conflict. Recently, officials in Beijing decided to instruct foreign embassies to remove what they deemed “propaganda” displayed at their diplomatic missions. This move is a possible reference to expressions of support for Ukraine.
The European Union spokesperson revealed that on May 8, the Protocol Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry circulated a note to all diplomatic missions, emphasizing the importance of adhering to Chinese laws and regulations and refraining from utilizing embassy walls for politically motivated propaganda to prevent disputes between nations. However, the note fails to provide specific details regarding what actions would be classified as “politicized propaganda.” According to the EU spokesperson, it does not provide further clarification on the matter.
Support for Ukraine Amid Limited Prospects for Negotiated Peace
Diplomats based in Beijing have reported that Ukrainian flags and placards exhibited by embassies such in Canada, France, Germany, and others are among the few visible public displays apart from tourism advertisements. Countries lending support to Ukraine perceives limited possibilities for a negotiated peace, primarily due to Russia’s steadfast pursuit of its war objectives.
The Kremlin’s demand for Kyiv to recognize Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and Ukrainian regions, including Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhia, further diminishes the likelihood of successful negotiations. The majority of nations have condemned these actions as illegal. Ukraine firmly rejects these demands and has categorically stated that it will not negotiate with Russia until its troops completely withdraw from all occupied territories.
President Zelensky’s comprehensive 10-point peace plan also advocates for establishing an international tribunal to hold Russia accountable for its acts of aggression and invasion. During his recent visit to Italy, Zelensky expressed skepticism about certain countries attempting to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to end the war, emphasizing the necessity of a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s own proposed framework.
Zelensky highlighted that Russia initiated the war, resulting in loss of life and significant challenges across multiple fronts, including nuclear, environmental, food, and energy concerns. Ukraine, directly affected by the conflict, possesses a unique understanding of the situation and its complexities.
Ukraine’s Law-Based Peace Plan Gains Support, African Leaders Mission Proposed
“We have put forth a plan grounded in law, upholds the principles of the UN Charter and international law, and respects the values and well-being of the people,” stated President Zelensky, as per a transcript available on the official website of the President of Ukraine. Several countries from Africa, Brazil, and the Vatican have supported peace negotiations.
On Tuesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Putin and Zelensky had mutually agreed to host an “African leaders peace mission” in Moscow and Kyiv, respectively. The proposed discussions would involve a delegation of leaders from six African countries, who would convene to explore potential avenues for a peace plan. However, Ramaphosa did not provide specific details regarding the timeframe or parameters for these potential peace talks.