russia targets kyiv overnight in 9th attack this month
Li Hui, center right, during talks with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday.Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Press Office

China’s most senior diplomat to visit Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion has finished talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials, with no apparent breakthrough in Beijing’s efforts to promote a cease-fire.

The Chinese diplomat, Li Hui, instead played down the prospects of a sudden shift, according to an official summary of his meetings in Ukraine released by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday. Mr. Li met with Mr. Zelensky, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and other officials in Kyiv over the past two days, the summary said.

“There is no magical remedy for defusing the crisis,” Mr. Li said, according to the Chinese summary. “This needs all the parties to start from themselves, build up mutual trust and create the conditions for cessation of war and for peace talks.”

Mr. Li’s visit to Ukraine was part of a tour across Europe to promote Beijing’s potential role in ending the war. He is scheduled to travel on to Poland, France, Germany and Russia “for communication on a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” the Chinese foreign ministry said last week. Mr. Li, a former ambassador to Moscow whose official title is now special representative on Eurasian affairs, has been promoting a broad, 12-point framework issued by Beijing in February as a starting point for peace efforts.

But neither the Chinese nor the Ukrainian account of Mr. Li’s talks in Ukraine gave any sign that Beijing’s global influence has narrowed the gulf between Kyiv and Moscow.

Ukraine has been wary of Chinese declarations about its role as a potential peace broker because Beijing is close to Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin. Even now, more than a year into the fighting, Chinese officials generally avoid using the words war or invasion to describe the conflict.

Other international leaders have also stepped forward as potential brokers to help end the war, including the presidents of France and Brazil, as well as Pope Francis. But both Moscow and Kyiv appear to be focused on making gains in fighting over the coming months before considering their positions in any talks.

Mr. Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, told Mr. Li that Kyiv “does not accept any proposals involving the loss of territory or the freezing of the conflict,” according to a statement from the Ukrainian ministry on Wednesday. It added that Mr. Kuleba had suggested China support Ukraine’s peace plan, which calls for Russia to withdraw from all Ukrainian territory.

Still, Mr. Li’s tour also appears to be aimed at blunting European criticism that China has put preserving its relationship with Russia ahead of its concern for Ukraine’s sovereignty and its wartime casualties.

Mr. Li’s role in seeking to end the war was announced last month, shortly after China’s leader, Xi Jinping, held his first phone call with Mr. Zelensky since Russia began its invasion last year.

China, Mr. Li told his Ukrainian hosts, wants to “encourage the international community to form the greatest common denominator toward defusing the Ukraine crisis,” the official Chinese summary of the talks said. “China has always plays a constructive role in its own way in easing the humanitarian situation of Ukrainians.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *