BEIJING,- China called for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine on Friday and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he was open to considering parts of a 12-point peace plan put forward by Beijing.
On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s ally China urged both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation, warned against the use of nuclear weapons and said conflict benefited no one.
The plan, set out in a foreign ministry paper, was largely a reiteration of China’s line since Russia launched what it calls its “special military operation” on Feb. 24 last year.
On the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China presented its so-called “peace plan,” publishing “China’s position on the political settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.”
Beijing calls the created situation the “Ukrainian crisis.” The document published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry consists of 12 points.
- respect for the sovereignty of countries
- Abandoning the “Cold War” mentality
- cessation of hostilities
- resumption of peace talks
- solving the humanitarian crisis
- protection of civilians and prisoners of war
- ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants
- reducing strategic risks
- support for grain exports
- ending unilateral sanctions
- maintaining the sustainability of production and supply chains
- promoting post-conflict recovery
The document states that “all parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as soon as possible to de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire gradually.”
The document, posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, lists the first point as “respect for the sovereignty of all countries.” “The universally recognized norms of international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively protected,” the text reads.
“A rejection of the Cold War mentality. The security of a country should not be secured at the expense of others. The security of the region should not be ensured by the strengthening or expansion of military blocs,” the 2nd paragraph notes.
Among China’s other proposals is a cessation of hostilities. “All sides should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible in order to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” it says.
China also proposes resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs), securing nuclear power plants, reducing strategic risks (no nuclear weapons and no nuclear wars), promoting grain exports, ending unilateral sanctions, maintaining the stability of production and supply chains, and promoting post-conflict reconstruction.
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Kyiv specified to Interfax-Ukraine that the document was based on the “four necessities” proposed by President Xi Jinping; the “four common positions” to be followed by the international community; and the “Three Observations” on the crisis.
As the embassy explained, the “four necessities” are that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, the rational security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously, and all efforts contributing to a peaceful resolution of the crisis should be supported.”
“The four ‘common positions’ to be followed by the international community imply that the international community should support all efforts contributing to a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine and call on the parties concerned to remain prudent, exercise restraint, and establish direct contacts as soon as possible and create conditions for renewed negotiations; together oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, advocate the unacceptability of nuclear weapons and the conduct of nuclear war
“Three observations” on the crisis – “There are no winners in conflicts and wars,” “Complex problems have no simple solutions,” “Confrontations between great nations must be avoided
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of the resolution “Principles of the United Nations
Charter underlying the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” a draft of which was submitted by 57 countries, including Ukraine.
According to the resolution, the General Assembly “reiterates its demand that the Russian Federation immediately, fully and unconditionally withdraw all of its armed forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and calls for a cessation of hostilities.
The resolution also calls for “the immediate cessation of attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and any deliberate targeting of civilian objects, including homes, schools and hospitals.
China abstained from voting for the resolution.
China has refrained from condemning its ally Russia or referring to Moscow’s intervention in its neighbour as an “invasion”. It has also criticised Western sanctions on Russia.
“All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiralling out of control,” the ministry said in its paper.
The initial reaction from Kyiv was dismissive, with a senior adviser to President Zelenskiy saying any plan to end the war must involve the withdrawal of Russian troops to borders in place when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
However, Zelenskiy himself struck a more receptive tone in a news conference to mark the first anniversary of the conflict.
Russia said it appreciated China’s plan and that it was open to achieving its goals through political and diplomatic means.
The proposals however cut little ice with NATO.
“China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Tallinn.
‘NO NUCLEAR WAR’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signalled he will double down on the conflict, despite major battlefield defeats in the past year, and has raised the spectre of nuclear weapons.
China said nuclear weapons must be avoided.
“Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought,” the foreign ministry said. “We oppose development, use of biological and chemical weapons by any country under any circumstances.”
Since the war began weeks after Beijing and Moscow announced a “no limits” partnership, President Xi Jinping has spoken regularly with Putin but not once with his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskiy. China’s top diplomat Wang Yi visited Moscow for talks this week.
Brazil’s new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva stressed the need for a peace deal brokered by outsiders.
“It is urgent that a group of countries not involved in the conflict assume the responsibility of leading negotiations to reestablish peace,” Lula said on Twitter.
There had been speculation that President Xi would deliver a “peace speech” on Friday but that did not occur.