(Bloomberg) — China called for a cease-fire in Ukraine in a bid to portray itself as a neutral actor that could help end Russia’s yearlong war.
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The 12-point plan issued by the Foreign Ministry in Beijing Friday called for ending hostilities, protecting nuclear plants, resuming peace talks and eliminating sanctions.
“All parties should support Russia and comprehensive Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a cease-fire,” the ministry said.
The plan is an effort to shape the outcome of the war toward one that benefits Beijing and present Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a global statesman. It appears to have little chance of succeeding given Ukraine has said it would fight until Russia leaves its borders and Moscow has shown no sign of stopping its attacks.
Ukraine and other countries are unlikely to view China as an impartial mediator to end a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and driven millions from their homes. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on a trip to Moscow on Wednesday that the ties between his nation and Russia were “solid as a mountain and can stand the test of international risks.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that China probably approved of Chinese firms providing Russia non-lethal, “dual-use” support for its war in Ukraine, remarks that underscore growing US concern that Beijing may help arm Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Read: China Probably Approved Dual-Use Items to Russia, Blinken Says
The White House earlier warned Beijing against providing lethal aid to Russia after US officials revealed concerns about intelligence that China is considering doing so. Officials have not said what the consequences would be for Beijing but that they consider it a red line that must not be crossed.
Xi has yet to talk with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy since the invasion despite speaking with Putin some four times in that span. Beijing has also repeatedly defended a few of Russia’s reasons for going to war — most prominently to resist the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — while insisting it doesn’t support the invasion itself.
China’s proposal will likely be met with skepticism in the US and Europe. After Wang previewed the Chinese proposal, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that “a just peace cannot mean that the aggressor gets rewarded.”
US President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy on a surprise trip to Kyiv that the US had “unwavering support” for Ukraine. Biden also said the US would pledge more military aid to Ukraine.
After he left Kyiv, the US Department of Defense detailed a $460 million aid package, which includes artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars, in line with previous assistance.
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