Friday Mar 17, 2023
WASHINGTON: The White House expressed its belief that a discussion between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese leader Xi Jinping would be beneficial. However, it also cautioned Beijing against adopting an unbalanced stance in regards to the ongoing conflict.
"We think it would be a very good thing if the two of them talk," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters when asked about a Wall Street Journal report that the Ukrainian leader is set to talk with Xi for the first time since Chinese-ally Russia invaded.
"We support and have supported" contact, Kirby said. But he cautioned against a Chinese push for a ceasefire in Ukraine, saying it would simply help Russian aggression.
There has been no confirmation of a call to Zelensky by Xi. However, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba talked by phone Thursday.
Xi is also reported to be preparing a trip to Moscow to speak with his ally President Vladimir Putin.
Kirby said the United States has not confirmed that a Putin-Xi summit will take place but urged Beijing to avoid seeking a resolution to the war that would "reflect only the Russian perspective."
He said China’s highlighting of the need for a ceasefire "sounds perfectly reasonable," but would effectively "ratify Russia’s conquest."
"It would, in effect, recognize Russia’s gains" and "constitute another, continued violation of the UN Charter," he said.
Russian forces occupying swaths of Ukraine are currently under intense pressure from Western-armed Ukrainian troops.
A ceasefire would allow Moscow to "further entrench its positions in Ukraine, to rebuild their forces... and retrain them so that they can restart attacks at a time of their choosing," Kirby said.
A durable peace "can’t be one-sided and it has to absolutely include and be informed by Ukrainian perspectives and Ukrainian decisions," he said.