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China proposal could be basis for Ukraine peace: Putin

Chinese peace proposals could be used as the basis of a settlement to the Ukraine conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin says.

March 22, 2023
22 March 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin says after talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping that Chinese proposals could be used as the basis of a peace settlement in Ukraine but that officials in Kyiv are not yet ready.

In a joint statement issued at the end of Xi’s state visit to Moscow, the two men cautioned against any steps that might push the Ukraine conflict into an “uncontrollable phase,” adding pointedly that there could be no winners in a nuclear war.

Putin accused the United States and its European allies of fighting “to the last Ukrainian” while Xi reiterated China’s “neutral position” on Ukraine and called for dialogue.

“We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side,” Putin said.

China’s proposal – a 12-point paper calling for a de-escalation and eventual ceasefire in Ukraine – lacks details on how to end the war.

The US has been dismissive of the Chinese proposal, given China’s refusal to condemn Russia over Ukraine, and says a ceasefire now would lock in Russian territorial gains and give Putin’s army more time to regroup.

Ukraine has welcomed China’s diplomatic involvement but says Russia must pull its troops out of Ukraine, and underlines the importance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The Kremlin talks were intended to cement the “no limits” partnership the two leaders announced last February, less than three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

They signed a series of documents on a “strategic co-operation” after what Putin described as “successful and constructive” talks showing China was clearly now Russia’s most important economic partner.

“I am convinced that our multi-faceted co-operation will continue to develop for the good of the peoples of our countries,” Putin said in televised remarks.

The Chinese leader visited Moscow days after an international court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where Russian forces have made little progress in recent months despite suffering heavy losses.

In their joint statement, Xi and Putin also called on the US to stop “undermining global strategic security” and to cease developing a global missile defence system.

While pledging more regular joint military drills, however, the two leaders said their closer bilateral relationship was not directed against any third country and that it did not constitute a “military-political alliance”.

Putin said Russia, China and Mongolia had completed all agreements on a planned pipeline to ship Russian gas to China, and that Russia was ready to increase oil exports to China.

He also said Russia was ready to help Chinese businesses replace foreign firms that have left Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

The planned Power of Siberia 2 pipeline would deliver 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas per year from Russia to China via Mongolia.

Russia put forward the idea many years ago but it has gained urgency as Russia turns to China to replace Europe as its major gas customer.

Russia’s Gazprom already supplies gas to China through an existing Power of Siberia pipeline under a 30-year, $US400 billion ($A601 billion) deal launched at the end of 2019.

That pipeline spans 3000km.

Russia’s gas exports to China are still a small fraction of the record 177 bcm it delivered to Europe in 2018-19.

Putin said on Tuesday Russia would deliver at least 98 bcm of gas to China by 2030.

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