Xi Jinping will meet Vladimir Putin in Russia next week

by Eduardo Baptista

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Russia next week for talks with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, close aides said on Friday, as Beijing tries to throttle his peace plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. Used to be.

The visit, to be held from March 20 to 22, follows China’s announcement last month of a 12-point plan for a “political solution to the Ukrainian crisis”.

A senior Chinese diplomat also called for dialogue during talks with Ukraine’s foreign minister on Thursday.

In its plan, China calls for the protection of civilians and asks Russia and Ukraine to respect their respective sovereignty.

The United States and NATO, for their part, have judged that Beijing’s mediation efforts were not credible because China does not condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia – his first in nearly four years – was partly aimed at promoting “peace”, although he made no explicit mention of the war in Ukraine.

Wang said the leaders should also exchange views on major regional and international issues, enhance bilateral trust and deepen economic partnership.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin would discuss “topical issues of further development of comprehensive partnership ties and strategic cooperation between Russia and China.” There is no mention of Ukraine in the press release either.

According to some media, Xi Jinping is expected to speak by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his visit to Russia. Beijing did not confirm the call.

China and Russia announced a ‘boundless’ partnership during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing for the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Both sides have since reaffirmed the strength of their ties, especially in the area of ​​trade, with their exchanges booming since the invasion. China is the biggest buyer of Russian oil, a major source of revenue for Moscow.

Ukraine rejected China’s ‘peace plan’ because it did not mention Kiev’s demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops to its 1991 borders, but then said it was open to some elements of the project.

Russia says Ukraine must accept the loss of four regions in the country’s east and south as well as Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula it forcibly annexed in 2014.

(Reporting by Reuters and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing Reuters, Writing by Caleb Davis and John Geddy; French version Kate Enstringer, Editing by Mathieu Protard)

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