Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The report, which cited people familiar with the matter, said Xi is also planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week and will likely hold his talk with Zelensky following his trip to Russia.
The report indicates Xi is looking to mediate between the two sides and comes after Beijing released a 12-point peace plan for the conflict in Ukraine that focuses on calling for a pause in fighting and a resumption of peace talks.
Zelensky expressed openness to China’s proposal, but it was dismissed by President Biden and other US officials. Biden rejected altogether the idea of China mediating an end to the war that wouldn’t solely benefit Russia.
But China’s mediating credentials just got a major boost after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced they plan to normalize relations, an agreement that was brokered by China and came after days of negotiations in Beijing. Tehran and Riyadh are long-time regional rivals and haven’t had formal diplomatic relations since 2016.
Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, China has called for a ceasefire and negotiations. The US recently accused Beijing of considering arming Russia but provided no evidence for the claim. There’s no sign that China has decided to take such a step, as Chinese officials have warned sending arms to be used in the war would only prolong the fighting.