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19 Mar, 2024 01:12

China to boycott Ukraine peace talks without Russia – Politico

Beijing is reportedly working behind the scenes to convince the EU to invite Moscow to a potential international summit
China to boycott Ukraine peace talks without Russia – Politico

China will boycott international peace talks on the Russia-Ukraine conflict unless Moscow has a seat at the table, Politico reported on Monday, citing officials familiar with the matter. 

According to outlet, the message was “amplified” during Chinese Eurasia envoy Li Hui’s European tour earlier this month. Li met with Andrey Yermak, the chief of staff to President Vladimir Zelensky, while in Kiev on March 7.  

Ukraine will likely be discussed during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China next month. Chinese President Xi Jinping will then travel to Paris in early May and meet his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Politico said.

The South China Morning Post reported this month that Li told EU officials that a potential peace summit cannot turn into “a conference that produces a plan that is pushed down the Russians’ throat.” 

China has refused to blame Russia for the ongoing conflict and has stressed that the fighting can only be stopped through diplomatic means. In 2023, Beijing unveiled a 12-point roadmap to a peace settlement, urging both sides to de-escalate. Kiev has since rejected the proposal.

Ukraine insists that peace can only be negotiated on Zelensky’s terms, which include the withdrawal of Russian forces from “illegally occupied” territory. Moscow has rejected the demands as a non-starter, stressing that it will not surrender Crimea and four other former Ukrainian regions that joined Russia after holding referendums.

Negotiations between Moscow and Kiev effectively broke down in the spring of 2022, with both sides accusing each other of making unrealistic demands. Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently said that Ukrainian negotiators had initially agreed to some of Moscow’s terms, but then abruptly reneged on the deal. 

Kiev’s lead negotiator, David Arakhamia, revealed in November 2023 that his team’s main goal was to “buy time” for the Ukrainian military.

Switzerland has proposed to host a major peace summit sometime this year. However, no specific date has been set, and no list of potential participants has been revealed.