BEIJING — Chinese language chief Xi Jinping mentioned Wednesday that Beijing will ship an envoy to Ukraine to debate a attainable “political settlement” to Russia’s struggle with the nation.

Beijing has beforehand prevented involvement in conflicts between different international locations however seems to be attempting to claim itself as a world diplomatic power after arranging talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March that led them to revive diplomatic relations after a seven-year break.

Xi informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a cellphone name {that a} Chinese language envoy, a former Chinese language ambassador to Russia, would go to Ukraine and “different international locations” to debate a attainable political settlement, in response to a authorities assertion.

It made no point out of Russia or final 12 months’s invasion of Ukraine and did not point out whether or not the Chinese language envoy would possibly go to Moscow.

The Xi-Zelenskyy cellphone name was lengthy anticipated after Beijing mentioned it needed to function a mediator within the struggle.


China is the one main authorities that has pleasant relations with Moscow in addition to financial leverage as the most important purchaser of Russian oil and gasoline after the US and its allies lower off most purchases.

Beijing, which sees Moscow as a diplomatic accomplice in opposing U.S. domination of worldwide affairs, has refused to criticize the invasion and used its standing as certainly one of 5 everlasting U.N. Safety Council members to deflect diplomatic assaults on Russia.

Zelenskyy earlier mentioned he welcomed a Chinese language supply to mediate.


Xi’s authorities has pursued a much bigger function in international diplomacy as a part of a marketing campaign to revive China to what the ruling Communist Celebration sees as its rightful standing as a political and financial chief and to construct a world order that favors Beijing’s pursuits.

That may be a sharp reversal after many years of avoiding involvement in different international locations’ conflicts and most worldwide affairs whereas it targeted on financial growth at dwelling.

In March, Saudi Arabia and Iran issued a shock announcement, following talks in Beijing, that they might reopen embassies in one another’s capitals following a seven-year break. China has good relations with each as an enormous oil purchaser.

Final week, Overseas Minister Qin Gang informed his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts that his nation is able to assist facilitate peace talks.

Wednesday’s assertion warned in opposition to the risks of nuclear struggle, suggesting Beijing may additionally have been motivated by what it sees because the rising hazard of a extra damaging battle.

Mediating between Ukraine and Russia would enhance China’s presence in Jap Europe, the place Beijing has tried to construct ties with different governments. That has prompted complaints by some European officers that China is attempting to achieve leverage over the European Union.

Kimberly Marten, professor of political science at Barnard-Columbia College in New York, doubted China would reach a peacemaker function.

“I’ve a tough time believing that China can act as peacemaker,” she mentioned, including that Beijing has been “too near Russia.”


China is the closest factor President Vladimir Putin’s remoted authorities has to a serious ally.

Xi and Putin issued a joint assertion forward of the February 2022 invasion that mentioned their governments had a “no limits friendship.”

Beijing has tried to look impartial however has repeated Russian justifications for the invasion.

Xi acquired a heat welcome from Putin throughout a go to to Moscow in March. The Chinese language protection minister visited Russia this month.

China has stepped up purchases of Russian oil and gasoline for its energy-hungry economic system, serving to to offset misplaced income ensuing from Western sanctions. In alternate, China will get decrease costs, although particulars haven’t been disclosed.

Marten mentioned the Xi-Zelenskyy name was “sort of a slap at Russia, as a result of Russia has been very eager to painting China as its ally.” She mentioned the direct China-Ukraine contact “signifies China is taking not less than a step away from Russia.”


China was Ukraine’s largest buying and selling accomplice earlier than the invasion, although on a smaller scale than Chinese language-Russian commerce.

In 2021, Ukraine introduced plans for Chinese language firms to construct trade-related infrastructure.

Zelenskyy’s authorities was extra ambivalent towards Beijing after it was clear Xi would not attempt to cease Putin’s struggle, however the two sides have remained amicable.

“Earlier than the full-scale Russian invasion, China was Ukraine’s primary buying and selling accomplice. I imagine that our dialog in the present day will give a robust impetus to the return, preservation and growth of this dynamic in any respect ranges,” an official Ukrainian readout of the decision reported.

Qin, the international minister, promised this month China would not present arms to both aspect, a pledge that advantages Ukraine, which has acquired tanks, rockets and different armaments from the US and European governments.

The Chinese language ambassador to France set off an uproar in Europe when he urged former Soviet republics — a gaggle that features Ukraine — may not be sovereign nations. That was according to Putin’s feedback denying Ukrainian sovereignty.

Beijing then reassured former Soviet states it revered their sovereignty and mentioned the ambassador’s feedback have been a private opinion, not official coverage.

Elizabeth Wishnick, of the U.S.-based assume tank CNA and Columbia College’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute, mentioned in an electronic mail: “I ponder if Xi’s name was arrange rapidly to deflect consideration” from the uproar over the Chinese language ambassador’s remarks.


Andrew Katell in New York contributed to this report.

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