President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday welcomed some elements of a Chinese proposal for a ceasefire in Russia’s war on Ukraine, but said only the country where a war is being fought should be the initiator of a peace plan.
“I believe that the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad, but the question is what follows the words,” Zelensky said at a press conference on Friday, The Associated Press reported.
“I think it’s correct to think that if there are thoughts that, in one way or another, correspond with respect for international law, to territorial integrity… let’s work with China on this point,” he said during a news conference in Kyiv.
China released a 12-point plan for trying to find a resolution in the conflict as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine arrived. The plan includes points calling for respecting all countries’ sovereignty, ending hostilities, resuming peace talks and resolving the humanitarian crisis that has been created by the war.
Zelensky said China’s plan seems to call for protecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine, noting that while it does not mention the country specifically, Ukraine’s territory is the one that has been breached. He said China’s call for nuclear security is in line with Ukrainian and international interests.
Zelensky, who said he believed China did not offer a concrete plan but some “thoughts”, also said there were parts he disagreed with. He urged Beijing not to provide Moscow with arms, but added that it was promising that China – a Russian ally – was considering brokering peace. “Our task is to gather everyone to isolate one,” he said, speaking on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
He said he disagrees with some proposals, but Ukraine should look to work with a plan that respects international law and territorial integrity. He also reportedly said he wants to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Volodymyr Fesenko, the leader of the independent think tank Penta Center in Kyiv, told the AP that he believes Zelensky will try to work with China to prevent Beijing from increasing its ties to Russia.
U.S. officials have warned that China has sent nonlethal aid to support Russia despite officially being neutral in the conflict and is considering sending lethal aid as well. The Pentagon has warned that China will face consequences if it sends weapons or munitions to Russia. “As long as China comes up with peacemaker initiatives, it will be forced to maintain neutrality and to abstain from supplying weapons and direct military assistance to Russia,” Fesenko said.