The White House has come out against a ceasefire in Ukraine ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Moscow to potentially mediate between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart in Kyiv.
Xi is due to arrive in Moscow on Monday and is expected to speak virtually to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following his talks with Putin. Xi’s trip comes after Beijing released a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that called for the two sides to cease hostilities and for peace talks to begin.
Zelensky expressed openness to China’s proposal, but it was immediately rejected by President Biden.
“We don’t support calls for a ceasefire right now,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Friday, according to Newsweek. “We certainly don’t support calls for a ceasefire that would be called for by the PRC in a meeting in Moscow that would simply benefit Russia.”
Kirby’s comments come as Ukrainian and Russian forces continue to battle in the Donbas city of Bakhmut, which has become known as the “meat grinder” due to the heavy casualties. Ukraine has been pouring in barely-trained conscripts to fight in the city, and the US thinks Kyiv is wasting too many resources in the battle.
The US wants Ukraine to launch a counteroffensive in the spring, although a senior Ukrainian official told The Washington Post last week that Kyiv doesn’t have the resources to pull it off. Kirby’s reasoning for opposing a ceasefire at this time is that a pause in fighting could concede territory to Moscow.
Kirby said the ceasefire would, “in effect, recognize Russia’s gains, and its attempt to conquer his neighbor’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory and, of course, it would be another continued violation of the UN Charter.”
The US and its allies discouraged peace talks and mediation efforts that were conducted shortly after Russia’s February 2022 invasion. At that time, Moscow was seeking a deal that would have reverted to the pre-invasion territorial lines. But now, Ukraine stands to lose much more as Russia has annexed the territory it controls in the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and the breakaway Donbas republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.