Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Saturday that Chinese diplomacy will end the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Kuleba told an online press conference that he had received assurances from Beijing that “China is interested in stopping this war”. He spoke to Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister, “a couple of days ago”, he said. The two did talk on March 1 and it was not immediately clear if they had a second conversation.
“China enjoys a special relationship with Russia. We expect that they will be reaching out to Russia with a very consistent and strong message that this war is also against the interests of China, this war is against the interests of humanity and that President Putin has to withdraw.
“Chinese diplomacy has sufficient tools to make a difference and we count that it is already involved . . . and that their efforts will be successful.”
While Kuleba claimed that Chinese diplomacy would end the war, it remains unclear how much pressure, if any, President Xi Jinping may be putting on Vladimir Putin.
Beijing has refused to condemn the Russian invasion but has said the territorial integrity of sovereign states should be respected. Earlier this week, China was one of only five countries, along with India, that abstained in a vote at the UN condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier on Saturday, Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, held a call with Wang Yi, his Chinese counterpart. The state department said Blinken told Wang that “the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty”.
Kuleba asked Indians to pressure prime minister Narendra Modi, who has remained neutral, to push for a ceasefire so foreign students could be evacuated from besieged cities. He also said India could be short of food if the war carried on.
“India is one of the largest consumers of Ukrainian agricultural products. If this war continues it will be difficult for us to seed a new harvest and for them to collect,” Kuleba said.
Kuleba also met Blinken on the Polish-Ukrainian border on Saturday. He said he asked for further sanctions on Russia and more weapons. He said Nato’s refusal to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine showed it was weak. “Because of the decision more civilians will be killed,” he said. However, Kuleba said he was confident Ukraine would win the war.
The US and its Nato allies oppose creating a no-fly zone because they believe it would drag the alliance into the conflict with Russia, in a move that could spark a very dangerous escalation.