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19 May, 2023 06:07

China responds to Kissinger’s Ukraine proposal

Beijing says NATO membership for Kiev would not bring about a “durable security architecture”
China responds to Kissinger’s Ukraine proposal

China has urged against Ukraine joining NATO, saying it would not improve security in the European region, after veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger claimed membership would serve the interests of both Kiev and Moscow.

Asked about Kissinger’s comments during a Thursday press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin argued that Ukrainian NATO membership would only further inflame tensions.

“Ukraine should not become the frontier in a major power confrontation,” he said, adding that “to strengthen or even expand military groups is not a viable way to ensure the security of a region. One country’s security should not be achieved at the expense of the security of other countries.”

In an interview with the Economist published on Wednesday, Kissinger said European powers were pursuing a “madly dangerous” strategy by keeping Kiev out of the US-led military bloc, insisting Ukraine must not “become a solitary state just looking out for itself.” He claimed NATO membership would not only benefit Ukraine, but Russia as well.

“If I talked to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, I would tell him that he, too, is safer with Ukraine in NATO,” the 99-year-old added, saying the move would prevent Kiev from making rash “national decisions on territorial claims.”

The Chinese spokesman went on to state that a “durable European security architecture” could only be created through dialogue. During a visit to Ukraine this week, special envoy Li Hui met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and other senior officials to discuss Beijing’s views on a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. 

Beijing unveiled a 12-point roadmap for peace in February which urged both Moscow and Kiev to resume direct negotiations. President Putin later said the Chinese plan was “in tune” with Russia’s position and hoped the proposal could serve as the basis for a future political settlement. 

Western powers have dismissed the 12-point plan, with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell dubbing it “wishful thinking,” while the top advisor to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky argued that it heavily favors Russia. 

Direct Turkish-brokered talks between the two sides broke down in the spring of 2022. Since then, President Zelensky has ruled out any direct talks with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and Moscow has rejected the terms for negotiations put forward by Kiev. Among other things, Ukraine’s proposal calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from all territories within Ukraine’s 1991 borders, to pay reparations, and to submit to war crime tribunals. Moscow has rejected the plan as “unacceptable,” pointing out that it ignores the reality on the ground and merely shows Kiev’s unwillingness to resolve the crisis through talks.