Russia open for negotiation, Putin tells Xi

Xi, who called Putin his “dear friend,” praised his Russian counterpart, saying the country’s development had “significantly improved”…reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin, has said his country is “always open for a negotiation process”.

Putin made the remarks on Monday in response to China’s “plan settle ongoing Ukraine crisis”.

The plan aimed to “end the Russia-Ukraine war” was released by China in February. However, the US has warned it could be a “stalling tactic”.

“The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Calling for a ceasefire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest,” Blinken added.

Talks between the two leaders lasted four and a half hours on Monday, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Further formal meetings are expected to follow on Tuesday.

Xi, who called Putin his “dear friend,” praised his Russian counterpart, saying the country’s development had “significantly improved”.

“Both sides exchanged in-depth views on the Ukraine issue,” reported Xinhua news agency, describing the leaders’ meeting as “in-depth and candid.”

Earlier, Speaking at informal talks at the start of Xi’s state visit to Moscow, Putin also said that Russia was “slightly envious” of China’s rapid development in recent decades.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have called on the Chinese leader to use his influence and press Moscow to end the war.

The UK said that China should back up its support for the respect of territorial integrity and demand that Russia end its war in Ukraine.

“We hope President Xi uses this opportunity to press President (Vladimir) Putin to cease bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals, schools, to halt some of these atrocities that we are seeing on a daily basis,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said as Xi and Putin meet in Moscow.

Kyiv expects China to use its influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

“Ukraine is following the Chinese President’s visit to Russia closely,” Nikolenko said in a statement to Reuters shortly after China’s Xi arrived in Moscow for talks with Putin.

“We expect Beijing to use its influence on Moscow to make it put an end to the aggressive war against Ukraine.”

Kyiv says any negotiations surrounding a peace deal must involve a full withdrawal of Russian troops and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“We stand ready to engage in a closer dialogue with China in order to restore peace in Ukraine in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and the latest UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) resolution on this matter,” Nikolenko said.

China’s release last month of a 12-point statement of broad principles on the war that called for respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks, resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs), keeping nuclear power plants safe, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports, stopping unilateral sanctions, keeping industrial and supply chains stable and promoting post-conflict reconstruction.

But Western leaders have expressed scepticism about China’s potential role as a peacemaker and its claimed neutrality. The United States and its allies have instead since last month warned that China is considering sending lethal aid to Russia for its war effort, which Beijing has denied.

Xi also told Putin in talks at the Kremlin that he was “convinced” that Putin enjoyed the Russian people’s support ahead of a presidential election scheduled for next year, reported Reuters.

Speaking through an interpreter on the first day of his state visit to Russia, President Xi also thanked Putin for what he said was his support for China and said that Beijing should have close relations with Moscow.

This is the first time China’s leader has visited his neighbour and close strategic partner since Russia-Ukraine started on February 24th, 2022.

Xi’s visit comes days after the International Criminal Court in the Hague accused Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Xi’s trip is likely to be seen in some Western capitals as a ringing endorsement of the Russian leader in the face of broad international condemnation of his war.

Putin launched his invasion days after he and Xi declared a “no limits” partnership last February.

Since that time China has claimed neutrality, but backed Kremlin rhetoric blaming NATO for the conflict, refused to condemn the invasion, and continued to support Moscow financially by significantly increasing purchases of Russian fuel.

On Friday following the announcement of Xi’s Moscow trip, the White House expressed concerns about potential proposals from China that would be “one-sided and reflect only the Russian perspective.”

For example, a proposal for a ceasefire – which China has repeatedly called for – would merely provide a way for Russia to regroup before launching a reprisal, said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council.

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