KYIV: China said on Monday (Feb 27) it sought dialogue and a peaceful solution for Ukraine despite United States warnings that Beijing might be considering weapons supplies for its ally Russia’s invasion.
Air-raid sirens blared in the capital Kyiv and other cities overnight and a Russian missile killed one person in the western town of Khmelnitskyi, Mayor Oleksandr Symshyshyn said on the Telegram messaging app. The all-clear sounded after daybreak.
China, which declared a “no limits” alliance with Russia shortly before the invasion a year ago, has refused to condemn the onslaught and last week published a 12-point plan calling for a ceasefire and gradual de-escalation by both sides.
Kyiv struck a receptive tone on some aspects of the plan while reiterating there could be no peace without a total Russian withdrawal – a non-starter for Moscow.
“I really want (victory) to happen this year. For this we have everything – motivation, confidence, friends, diplomacy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a post on the Telegram messaging app on Monday.
China’s foreign ministry said it had kept contact with all sides in the crisis including Kyiv and its position was clear.
“The core is to call for peace and promote dialogue and promote a political solution to the crisis,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a news briefing in Beijing.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday the Chinese plan should be analysed in detail and account for the interests of all sides, but for now Moscow saw no signs suggesting a peaceful resolution was feasible.
“We are paying a great deal of attention to the plan of our Chinese friends … This is a very long and intense process,” Peskov told reporters.
China’s proposals have cut little ice among Ukraine’s NATO military alliance supporters, who say they are trying to dissuade China from supplying lethal aid for Russia’s lumbering invasion, possibly including “kamikaze” drones.
Moscow’s forces are incurring high losses in trench warfare as they struggle to make further gains in eastern Ukraine while Kyiv eyes a counter-offensive with advanced Western weapons, including battle tanks, pledged over the coming months.
CIA Director William Burns said at the weekend the US intelligence agency believed Beijing was considering military aid to Russia though it had not reached a final decision.
“If it goes down that road it will come at real costs to China,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN.
Casting the Ukraine war as a battle for Russia’s survival against a rapacious West, Russian President Vladimir Putin last week hailed “new frontiers” in ties with Beijing and indicated that his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would soon visit Moscow.
“They have one goal: To disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part – the Russian Federation,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television.
NATO and the West dismiss this narrative, saying their objective in supporting Kyiv is to help it repel an imperial-style land grab by Moscow, which has derided its fellow former Soviet republic as an artificial state.
Putin’s framing of the war as an existential threat to Russia accords him greater freedom in the types of weapons he could one day use, including possibly nuclear firepower.
Dmitry Medvedev, an ex-Russian president and close ally of Putin, said in published remarks the West’s continued supply of arms to Kyiv risked a global nuclear disaster – reiterating apocalyptic rhetoric seen as an effort to deter deeper Western involvement with Russia struggling for battlefield momentum.
A political adviser to Zelenskyy decried Russia’s version of the conflict.
“When the Russian Federation talks about a nuclear conflict … two questions arise,” Mykailo Podolyak tweeted. “Why did you attack another country? Do you ask the world to give you the right to kill another country’s citizens with impunity, and if you’re beaten, you scream, ‘Don’t touch us’?!”
Ukraine’s outnumbered but better organised and nimbler forces repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv early in the war and later retook swathes of occupied territory in the east and south.
But after a year of war that has killed tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians on both sides and laid waste to Ukrainian cities, Moscow still controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine, which it claims to have annexed.
Russia’s forces are focusing on taking full control of the eastern Donbas industrial region but have managed only minor advances despite being replenished by hundreds of thousands of conscripts and reservists.
In Luhansk province, the largely Russian-occupied northern half of the Donbas, Moscow has escalated shelling and infantry assaults in the embattled Bilohoryvka, Svatove-Kupiansk and Kreminna areas, Ukraine’s Luhansk governor said on Monday.
“There is no fleeing, our units do not leave territory … Of course, everything can change at any moment,” Serhiy Haidai told state television.
“On the other hand, Western offensive heavy equipment is on the way and therefore in any week the military command can conduct an operation following the same plan as they did in the Kharkiv region.” he said, referring to Ukraine’s recapture of a northeastern sector from Russian forces last year.