The Kremlin said Thursday that it would welcome any steps toward a settlement to the war in Ukraine following the call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We are ready to welcome anything that could help bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine closer and, actually, also help Russia achieve all of its goals. We are ready to welcome that,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
“As for the fact of their communication, it is a sovereign matter for each of the two counties that pertains exclusively to their bilateral dialogue,” Peskov added.
During the call, Xi stressed to Zelensky that China will work to push for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Beijing announced it will send a seasoned diplomat to Ukraine to speak with “all parties” in the region to resolve the crisis.
The envoy China is sending is Li Hui, Beijing’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, who served as the Chinese ambassador to Russia from 2009 to 2019. “The Chinese-appointed special envoy will be the candidate best able to handle the progress of the peace talks,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Beijing wants to work with Central Asian nations to bring Russia and Ukraine to the table. “China and the Central Asian countries share a similar view and stance on the crisis in Ukraine,” he said after meeting with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
While Russia and Ukraine are expressing openness to China’s efforts, both sides’ demands remain very far apart. Zelensky and his top aides have maintained peace talks can’t happen until Russia is expelled from all the territory it controls, including Crimea. For their part, Moscow says any settlement must recognize the territory it annexed last fall as Russian.