On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a “long and meaningful” phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, their first known communication since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the Associated Press reported.
President Zelensky appeared upbeat after the hour-long call that provided him with the opportunity to weigh in on what has been a bilateral dialogue between Beijing and Moscow.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Zelensky said he believes the phone call, along with the appointment of a Ukrainian ambassador to China, will advance “bilateral relations” between Kyiv and Beijing.
Kyiv’s official readout of the call described the conversation as “productive,” saying it will lead the way for a “possible interaction” toward the goal of a “just and sustainable peace for Ukraine.”
According to the readout, President Zelensky emphasized that there could be no peace agreement that includes “territorial compromises.” Zelensky also touched on reports from Washington that Beijing is considering supplying weapons to Russia when he asked that countries avoid doing so since support of any kind would be used by Russia to continue its aggression and reject peace.
Beijing has maintained that it will not supply weapons to either side.
In a statement on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing’s central position is facilitating peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry announced that a former ambassador to Russia would serve as an envoy to visit Ukraine in hopes of seeking a “political settlement.”
Acknowledging Kyiv’s insistence that no territory be ceded to Russia, the Foreign Ministry said the “political foundation” of relations between China and Ukraine is “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The ministry said regardless of how the “international situation evolves,” Beijing will work with Kyiv “to advance mutually beneficial cooperation.”
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova praised Beijing for its willingness to establish a process for peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine but criticized the Zelensky government for rejecting the “sound initiatives aimed at a settlement.”