BEIJING, Feb 24 (Reuters) – China has said it wants to prevent the Russia-Ukraine crisis from spiraling out of control and that talks and negotiations are the only viable way to resolve the crisis.
On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China called for a 12-point foreign ministry statement calling for a comprehensive ceasefire and gradual detente.
The ministerial document was largely a reiteration of China’s approach since Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” on February 24 last year.
China has refrained from condemning its ally Russia or calling its intervention in its neighbor an “invasion”, and it has criticized Western sanctions against Russia.
“Conflict and war do not benefit anyone. All parties must be rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning flames and tensions, and prevent the crisis from worsening or spiraling out of control,” the ministry said in its statement.
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The war has entered its second year without a resolution and Russia is isolated at the United Nations, while G7 leaders look to coordinate more aid for Ukraine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to deliver a “peace speech” later Friday in which he will refrain from condemning Russia and urge peace.
As Russian troops occupy its territory, Ukraine has consistently rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying any pause in fighting would help Russia regroup its troops.
The EU’s ambassador to China, Jorge Toledo, said China’s statement was not a peace proposal, but the EU would closely examine it.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Toledo said China has a special responsibility to uphold and uphold the values of the United Nations Charter.
At the same conference, Ukraine’s officials called China’s paper “a good sign” that Ukraine expects China to be more serious in its political support.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Ukraine, Zhanna Leshshinska, said Ukraine hoped China would also urge Russia to end the war and withdraw its forces.
‘No Nuclear War’
Asked to what extent he believed China was maintaining neutrality in the conflict, Leszczynska said: “Neutrality means that China should talk to both sides, Russia and Ukraine. Now we see the Chinese side mostly talking with Russia, but not with Ukraine.”
Since the war began weeks after Beijing and Moscow declared a “no limits” partnership, Xi has spoken regularly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but not once with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Despite major defeats on the battlefield last year, Putin has vowed to double down on the conflict in Ukraine and, raising fears of nuclear weapons, announced plans this year to deploy new Sarmat multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles.
China said nuclear weapons should be avoided.
“Nuclear weapons should not be used and nuclear wars should not be waged,” the foreign ministry said. “We oppose the use of developmental, biological and chemical weapons by any country under any circumstances.”
Putin hailed “new frontiers” in relations with China on Thursday and signaled that Xi would visit.
US President Joe Biden will meet G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Zelensky on Friday to mark the anniversary and announce new sanctions against those aiding Russia’s war effort, the White House said.
The only sanctions that should be imposed on Russia are UN sanctions. China said it must be recognized by the Security Council – where the Russians hold veto power – and that unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot resolve the crisis and “they only create new problems”.
“China opposes unilateral sanctions not authorized by the UN Security Council. Relevant countries should stop unilateral sanctions and abuse of ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ against other countries.”
Reporting by Beijing Newsroom and Martin Quinn Pollard; By Bernard Orr and Liz Lee; Editing by Michael Perry, Kim Coghill, Robert Birzel
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