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9 Mar, 2024 03:40

China wants Russia at Ukraine peace talks – media

Beijing reportedly told EU officials that no settlement can be discussed without Moscow
China wants Russia at Ukraine peace talks – media

China and Switzerland are working behind the scenes to get Russia invited to proposed Swiss-hosted talks aimed at ending the fighting between Kiev and Moscow, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Last month, Switzerland announced plans to organize a peace summit “by the summer.” No specific date has been named yet. The number of potential participants has also not been revealed. However, Ukraine indicated that Russia can only be invited if it agrees in advance to a litany of preconditions.

According to the news website, China’s envoy for Eurasia Li Hui told EU officials that the summit “can’t be a conference that produces a plan that is pushed down the Russians’ throat.” The sources further told the publication that both China and Switzerland share a “pragmatic” view that the negotiations should not be just a formality. 

Unlike many Western countries, Beijing has refused to blame Moscow for the outbreak of hostilities in February 2022, and has stressed that the conflict can only be ended through diplomacy.

“The earlier the talks start, the sooner peace will arrive,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters at a CCP event in Beijing on Thursday. He added that “the absence of peace talks… may lead to an even bigger crisis.” 

China proposed a 12-point roadmap to peace in February 2023. The initiative was dismissed by Kiev.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has, in turn, insisted that a settlement can only be based on the 10-point ‘peace formula’ he unveiled at the end of 2022.

Moscow has rejected Zelensky’s terms as unrealistic, arguing that it will never surrender Crimea, which joined Russia in 2014, or the four former Ukrainian regions that did the same in September 2022. 

Ukraine and its Western backers have branded the accession referendums “a sham” and accused Russia of illegally occupying Ukrainian lands. They later said that peace can only be achieved on Kiev’s terms.

Russian Ambassador to Switzerland Sergey Garmonin told local media in January 2024 that a peace summit without Russian participation would be “doomed to fail.” Moscow maintains that it is open to negotiations but on acceptable terms.

According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese envoy Li told his EU counterparts that Moscow had two preconditions for talks – ending Western arms deliveries to Ukraine and the revocation of Zelensky’s 2022 decree that states negotiations with Putin are “impossible.”