US seeks to thwart any Chinese call for ceasefire in Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The United States is trying to sidestep a potential proposal from Beijing for a ceasefire in Ukraine ahead of a Russia-China summit, saying suspending fighting now would help strengthen Russia’s grip on the territory. Ukrainian.

With Chinese leader Xi Jinping due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week, the White House on Friday expressed concern about China’s deepening ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine. That makes a potential call for a ceasefire a unilateral proposal to benefit Russia, said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

“A ceasefire is again effectively the ratification of the Russian conquest,” Kirby told a news conference. Such a move, he said, would recognize Russia’s territorial gains and the occupation of Ukrainian territory while giving Moscow a chance to entrench its positions and refresh its troops as Ukraine prepares for a offensive planned for the spring.

The preemptive critique of a possible ceasefire proposal is an expansion of an effort by the Biden administration to use public statements and revelations to try to reduce Beijing’s wiggle room with Moscow, including by projecting as a mediator, according to former foreign affairs officials and analysts.

In recent weeks, US officials citing intelligence have publicly warned that Beijing is considering supplying weapons and deadly capabilities to Russia, going beyond trade in goods like drones and aircraft parts for civilian and military use. . Mr. Kirby reiterated that concern, although he said the United States had no evidence that China had done so.

China has tried to portray itself as an alternative power to the United States, driving diplomatic detente between adversaries Saudi Arabia and Iran and launching initiatives calling for new thinking on global security. That message, foreign policy experts said, resonates at home and in many developing countries grappling with the impact of the Ukraine conflict on food prices and energy supplies.

“It creates the illusion that China is trying to play a constructive role,” said Janka Oertel, East Asia security specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank. “It’s part of a larger framing exercise that’s going on right now that’s not really pro-peace or pro-Russian. It’s just anti-American, because it’s working really well in the moment.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to meet in Moscow next week.


Alexander Zemlianitchenko/Associated Press

Beijing has not officially called for a ceasefire or offered a peace proposal. A Chinese Foreign Ministry position paper released last month on what it called “the Ukraine crisis” called for a political settlement and said all parties should work towards a cessation of hostilities.

Announcing the Moscow summit next week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday that Xi’s visit will be “a journey for peace”.

“China will maintain an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine crisis and play a constructive role in promoting peace talks,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing according to an official transcript.

Beijing, however, is profiting from the Ukraine conflict, and officials along with Dr. Oertel and other specialists expect the upcoming Moscow summit will see Messrs. Putin and Xi are pushing their governments’ already close relationship further.

MM. Putin and Xi have met dozens of times. While the Moscow rally is their second in-person meeting in six months, it is Xi’s first trip outside China since winning a third term as president, a largely ceremonial title bestowed by the national legislature. earlier this month, capping his dominance of the Communist Party.

Both leaders see common cause in the attempt to diminish American power. As Moscow continues the war against Ukraine, China has increased its purchases of Russian energy, often at discounted prices, and expanded the use of its currency in the countries’ bilateral trade. The war is also forcing the United States to focus on security in Europe, as the Biden administration tries to focus on fighting China.

If Beijing is interested in peace, said the National Security Council’s Kirby, Xi should speak directly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The two are not believed to have spoken since Russia launched its full-scale invasion nearly 13 months ago, although Mr. Xi is expected to hold talks with Mr. Zelensky next week, as part of the China’s efforts to be a more active mediator.

As Russia and China set the agenda for the Putin-Xi meeting, Kirby said the United States wanted to draw attention to any Chinese ceasefire proposal that “would be unilateral and would only reflect the Russian perspective”.

Mr. Kirby, when questioned by reporters, said he could not speak for Mr. Zelensky and whether he would accept a China-backed proposal. “We certainly do not support calls for a ceasefire that would be called for by the PRC at a meeting in Moscow,” Kirby said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Mr Zelensky has so far taken a different approach with Beijing, welcoming China’s 12-point position paper on Ukraine. Mr. Zelensky, however, pointed to the Chinese document’s emphasis on territorial integrity. His Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he also “discussed the importance of the principle of territorial integrity” in a phone call Thursday with his Chinese counterpart.

“We also hope that President Xi will contact President Zelensky directly because we continue to believe that it is very important that he also hears from the Ukrainian side and not just Mr. Putin,” Mr. Kirby said.

Photo: Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin/Agence Wire

Write to Charles Hutzler at

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