France urges Chinese leader Xi to orchestrate peace deal in Ukraine

By Paul Myers - RFI
MAR 22, 2023 LISTEN

France has urged China to use its relationship with Russia to broker a deal between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Voldymyr Zelensky to end the war in Ukraine.

Xi Jinping departed Moscow on Wednesday after a grandiose display of solidarity with Putin, although he did not offer direct support for Putin's war.

The French Foreign Ministry issued its appeal late on Tuesday as the Chinese leader said his country backed a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

Xi's statement followed talks with Putin at the Kremlin.

"We are guided by the principles of the United Nations," said Xi. "And promote a peaceful settlement of fighting in Ukraine. We are always for peace and dialogue."

Soon after Xi's declaration, Zelensky said he had invited China to talks and was awaiting an answer from Beijing.

"We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula," Zelensky told a prss conference."We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet."

France has been prominent in the diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire.

"Unfortunately, we do not see at this stage any willingness on the part of Russia to put an end to its aggression against Ukraine by withdrawing its troops from Ukrainian territory," said a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

"On the contrary, the Russian president continues to assert that Russia will achieve all its war aims."


Last November at the G20 summit in Bali, the French president Emmanuel Macron urged Xi to play a greater role in mediating between the two sides.

In February, China put forward a 12-point position on the conflict, which includes a call for dialogue and respect for all countries' territorial sovereignty.

On Tuesday, Jens Stoltenberg, the head of the western military alliance NATO, urged Beijing to take into account Ukraine's conditions for peace with Russia.

"It is for Ukraine to decide what are acceptable conditions for any peaceful solution," Stoltenberg said.

 "China therefore needs to start to understand Ukraine's perspective and engage with Zelensky directly if it wants to be serious about peace."

During their two days of talks in Moscow, Putin told Xi he was open to discussing Beijing's suggestions and he accused Zelensky of not being willing to implement China's proposals.

"Many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China ... can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when Kyiv and the west will be ready for it," Putin said.

"However, so far we have not seen such readiness on their part.

China has attempted to portray itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict. But the American administation says Beijing's stance could be a stalling tactic to help Moscow.

(with AFP)