President Zelensky spoke by phone on Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a call with huge political significance that instantly riled Moscow.

Here are 5 things you need to know…

China is pushing hard for negotiations

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that during the call Xi told Zelensky that "talks and negotiation" were the "only way out" of the war.

"On the issue of the Ukraine crisis, China has always stood on the side of peace and its core position is to promote peace talks," CCTV reported Xi as saying.

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According to a readout of the call, Xi said China "will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit".

"When dealing with the nuclear issue, all parties concerned should remain calm and restrained, truly focus on the future and destiny of themselves and all mankind, and jointly manage and control the crisis," Xi said.

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China also said it would send a delegation and a "special representative" of its government to Ukraine with the aim of finding a "political settlement" to the conflict.

Ukraine has said it would not negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that peace would only be possible after Russia withdrew its troops so watch this space.

It was a long call

Zelensky's spokesman Sergiy Nykyforov said on Facebook that the two leaders had "an almost one-hour-long telephone conversation".

"I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping," Zelensky said on Twitter.

Zelensky's Address at Ukraine at Hostomel Airport on War Anniversary
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Zelensky's Address at Ukraine at Hostomel Airport on War Anniversary

During his video address at the Hostomel airfield, a symbolic location that marked Russia’s full-scale invasion, President Zelensky thanked the people and Kyiv’s allies for their support.

"I believe that this call… will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations," he wrote.

It’s already producing hard results

Zelensky appointed a new ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday after the call.

Pavel Ryabikin, who previously headed the ministry of strategic industries of Ukraine, was named Kyiv's new envoy to China, according to a decree on the presidency's website.

Ryabikin headed the State Customs Service of Ukraine from 2020 to 2021 and was a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 7th convocation, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 2012.

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Ukraine has not had an ambassador in Beijing since the death of Serhiy Kamyshev on February 14, 2021.

Moscow didn’t like it

Moscow on Wednesday accused Kyiv of undermining any peace attempts in its reaction to the call. "The Ukrainian authorities and their Western minders have already shown their ability to mess up any peace initiatives," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Moscow noted "the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process” but accused Kyiv of having rejected "any sensible initiatives aimed at a political and diplomatic settlement."

"The eventual consent to negotiations is conditioned by ultimatums with obviously unrealistic demands," it said.

There’s a long backstory to the call…

The call is the first time the two men have spoken since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion last year.

Zelensky has said repeatedly he would be open to talks with his Chinese counterpart, and Wednesday's telephone call "was initiated by the Ukrainian side", Yu Jun from China's foreign ministry told a press conference.

February's 12-point paper called for a "political settlement" to the crisis and portrayed China as a neutral party, urging the two sides to enter into peace negotiations.

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Its first point was that "the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld", AFP reports.

But China has consistently refused to expand upon how that relates to the specifics of the Ukraine war, which was triggered when Moscow's forces invaded their neighbour.

In the paper, Beijing called on Russia and Ukraine to resume peace talks, stating that "dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution".

"The international community should stay committed to the right approach of promoting talks for peace, help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation," the paper read.

The document was met with scepticism from Ukraine's allies, with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg saying Beijing "doesn't have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine".

Many at the time pointed to the fact that Xi had met with Putin but not even called Zelensky as evidence that China was not the impartial observer it claimed to be. The Chinese leader's Moscow visit -- during which Xi said ties with Russia were entering "a new era" -- was viewed as a coup for Putin.

"I am sure that Russian-Chinese cooperation has truly unlimited possibilities and prospects," Putin said following the talks, where he toasted the "prosperity" of Russian and Chinese people and highlighted the "special nature" of the relationship between the two countries.

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Putin called the talks with Xi "meaningful and frank" and said that Russia, which has been largely cut out of European markets because of sanctions, would be able to meet China's "growing demand" for energy.

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Comments (9)

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David
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Chinese support for the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries “ is almost entirely aimed at preserving coherence for their claim to Taiwan.
How this principle translates to Ukraine appears entirely flexible in the Chinese mind.
No doubt they hope Ukraine would eventually be coerced by a battlefield stalemate (as in 2014) to self compromise its own integrity, though economically forced negotiations, that Russia will no doubt conduct in bad faith, as happened in 2014.
The fact that China never condemned the Russian invasion confirms they enter with zero credibility. Unlike India China don’t have any significant ongoing dependence on Russia for critical military equipment and spare parts, hence could have been specific about regions where Ukraines sovereignty has been violated.
If China is serious, they should support the push for Russia to forfeit its permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

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XiJingPoop
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You can trust China to violate any agreement, just as Russia violates every agreement. Just look at Hong Kong. The U.K. government maintains thatChina is in a “state of ongoing non-compliance” with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by the two countries that guarantees Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms after the city was handed back to Beijing in 1997.

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AmericanExpat
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China is not going to let Russia's war cut them out of the European market now that they see Putin has lost his gamble, so they are starting to hedge their bets. Xi didn't make the call, but you can bet Zelensky already had been told Xi would answer it, a ritual matter of face in this moment. Negotiations brokered by China will follow the pattern of Xi making Blinkem and Biden look like the unthinking amateurs they are. Zelensky can parley this into a deal where Russia vacates all of Ukraine and China signs on by treaty to defend Ukraine's pre-2014 borders. Along with the EU of course. Effectively confirming Russia's status as a Chinese vassal state. And China will invest in Ukraine as they have done in other countries. One can see where all this is going. Ah, yes we do indeed live in interesting times, especially if you're the next US administration which is left holding the Blinkem/Biden sack of s--t.

XiJingPoop
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@AmericanExpat, Where it is going is China loses its investment in the Belt & Road project it had planned for Ukraine, because they gave Putin a green light to attack Ukraine. Ukraine will look to Lithuania as an example of how to deal with Xi.

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Giorgio
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China feels the heat: Offensive heat ahead, Xi knows Russia will soon find himself on the lose game side. So changing the side in time is a wise chinese move.

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Xi Idiot
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Winnie the Pooh. China’s dictator 😂😂😂

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Dan Slaby
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Peace is misspelled; the correct spelling is Piece which is to say, 'give Putin a piece of Ukraine, as much as he wants, including all of it'.

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Barruntaranchos
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"let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit". Oil and gas at a high discount, selling everything to Russia that they used to buy to the US and the EU, from cars to TVs, food, clothes, etc. etc. It is sad, but Ukraine can´t expect anything good from China.

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Mark Soars
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So the "pandemic" is coming to an end?

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David Soares
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Why is the ambassador to Beijing's name written as "Pavel" Ryabikin? That is a Russian name. His name is "Pavlo" and should be spelled as such.

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