Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to Ukrainian Muslim servicemen at the Birlik Crimean Tatar cultural center near Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine, 07 April 2023. EFE/EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Zelenskyy, Xi talk for first time since Russian invasion of Ukraine

Kyiv, Apr 26 (EFE).- Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a “long and meaningful” phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Ukraine’s president said.

The conversation was the first time the two leaders had spoken since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

“I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the Russia – China talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 21 March 2023. EFE/EPA/ALEXEY MAYSHEV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

According to Chinese state media, Xi told Zelenskyy that “dialogue and negotiations” were the only “viable way out for the Ukraine crisis”.

The Chinese leader said he would be sending a special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs to Ukraine and other countries to conduct in-depth talks with all parties “on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

According to the China Daily newspaper, Xi said his country “always stands on the side of peace, and that its core position is to promote peace through dialogue.”

“No one wins a nuclear war,” Xi said, according to the report.

While Xi has pitched Beijing as a potential mediator for peace, China has so far maintained an ambiguous stance on the war in Ukraine.

Beijing abstained from voting on a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning the Russian invasion, and although it has not explicitly supported Moscow, it has opposed sanctions against Russia because “it does not solve problems.”

Unlike Western powers, Xi said China has refused to “add fuel to the fire,” or “use the crisis as an opportunity to make profit”, according to the China Daily.

Xi visited Russian president Vladimir Putin in March after publishing a 12-point peace plan outlining Beijing’s stance on resolving the conflict in Ukraine.

In the document, China defended Ukraine’s territorial integrity while also calling for Russia’s “legitimate” security concerns to be taken into account.

While Kyiv has welcomed China’s attempts at mediation, it has warned that Russia must first withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory before the peace plan can be implemented, alluding to the fact that Beijing’s plan does not address Moscow’s illegal annexation of four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing have continued to deepen ties, as Russia has become more reliant on exports to China amid sweeping international sanctions.