Ukraine appears willing to engage China in mediation efforts to end the war, at a moment China's Xi Jinping is in Moscow discussing Beijing's own 12-point peace plan. With the main part of talks with Putin having been concluded as of Tuesday night, there's been no breakthrough among the "friends" to come of it thus far.
"We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side," Putin said, laying blame on the Ukrainians.
But Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday his government has reached out to Beijing. Zelensky said he has invited China to engage in talks on implementation of Kyiv's own peace formula, and that he's waiting for an answer.
"We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula. We passed over our formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer," Zelensky announced at a Tuesday a press conference. He added: "We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet".
This comes after last month Zelensky issued an unexpectedly positive response to Xi's offering China's 12-point peace plan, in an effort to jumpstart negotiations. "I think the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad. But the question is what follows the words," Zelensky said at the time. "I think some of the Chinese proposals respect international law, and I think we can work on it with China. Why not? Our goal is to gather many around us to isolate one [Russia]," he had added.
"It is clear that in Beijing’s view the conflict in Ukraine will continue, that the West has no plan to solve it, and that China expects its role as mediator will only grow."https://t.co/TL5FX8QsyG— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 21, 2023
The reality is that since China first unveiled the broad peace plan weeks ago, its role as a mediator does appear to be taking shape.
But all the while this has resulted in cynicism and condemnation from Washington as the US watches helplessly while Beijing and Moscow embark on an unprecedented level of cooperation.
Xi Jinping: Change is coming that hasn't happened in 100 years. And we are driving this change together.— Russians With Attitude (@RWApodcast) March 21, 2023
Putin: I agree.
Xi Jinping: Please, take care, dear friend.
Putin: Have a safe journey! pic.twitter.com/eYdKFkl2PL
Likely pressure is also growing on Zelensky to reject any Chinese hand of friendship and mediation - seeing in it a ploy to keep Russia strong and on the offensive in Ukraine. If China-Ukraine talks do come together with an eye toward bringing in Moscow, the US certainly won't be happy.