China calls for ceasefire: Beijing unveils 12-point plan to solve Ukraine war

24 February 2023, 06:56 | Updated: 24 February 2023, 09:06

China said its relationship with Russia has "no limits"
China said its relationship with Russia has "no limits". Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

China has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and offered a 12-point peace plan to end the war, but accused the West of provoking the conflict.

While China said it maintains a neutral stance in the war, it warned its relationship with Russia has "no limits" and refused to acknowledge the conflict as a Russian invasion.

China also accused Western governments of provoking the conflict and "fanning the flames" by providing Ukraine with defensive arms.

It comes as the United States warned China may be willing to provide Russia with military aid, though Beijing has denied these claims.

It appears Western support for Ukraine will continue to grow, with prime minister Rishi Sunak set to tell NATO allies to give Ukraine fighter jets in order to give Kyiv the "decisive advantage" over Russia, one year on since the invasion.

China said its relationship with Russia has "no limits" as it called for a ceasefire in Ukraine
China said its relationship with Russia has "no limits" as it called for a ceasefire in Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

Despite China saying it maintains a neutral stance in the war, in recent years, Beijing and Moscow have increasingly aligned their foreign policies as they seek oppose the US-led liberal international order.

This week, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi reaffirmed the strength of their bilateral ties when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price had said earlier on Thursday that the US would reserve judgment on the proposal but that China's allegiance with Russia meant it was not a neutral mediator.

He said: "We would like to see nothing more than a just and durable peace...but we are sceptical that reports of a proposal like this will be a constructive path forward."

Read More: 'Ukraine needs jets now', Rishi Sunak tells allies, as he calls for 'faster' support one year on from Russian invasion

Read more: War in Ukraine 'will still be going in a year's time but Putin has already failed', says defence secretary Ben Wallace

Mr Price added that the US hopes "all countries that have a relationship with Russia unlike the one that we have will use that leverage, will use that influence to push Russia meaningfully and usefully to end this brutal war of aggression.

"(China) is in a position to do that in ways that we just aren't."

Reacting to China's input, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was an important first step to have them involved.

"I think that, in general, the fact that China started talking about peace in Ukraine, I think that it is not bad," Mr Zelenskyy said at a news conference prior to the release of China's 12-point peace plan.

"It is important for us that all states are on our side, on the side of justice."

AVAAZ Demonstration For Ukrainian Children Kidnapped By Russia
AVAAZ Demonstration For Ukrainian Children Kidnapped By Russia. Picture: Getty
Destruction in the Ukraine War
Destruction in the Ukraine War. Picture: Alamy

In the 12-point plan, the Chinese foreign minister urges Western governments to end sanctions on Russia and includes measures establish to humanitarian corridors for civilians and ensure the export of grain.

"Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out to resolve the Ukraine crisis," the proposal said.

No specific details were offered by China on how peace talks would manifest, but the proposal added: "China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in this regard".

Read more: 'Every day Russia inflicts more pain': Rishi Sunak calls for world leaders to 'double down' on arming Ukraine

It comes after China abstained as the UN General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.

It is one of 16 countries that either voted against or abstained on almost all of five previous resolutions on Ukraine.

While China has not been openly critical of Moscow, it has said that the present conflict is "not something it wishes to see", and has repeatedly said any use of nuclear weapons would be completely unacceptable.

A woman holds a banner 'Mr Biden Send F-16 To Ukraine' during a daily demonstration of solidarity with Ukraine
A woman holds a banner 'Mr Biden Send F-16 To Ukraine' during a daily demonstration of solidarity with Ukraine. Picture: Getty
US President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
US President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Picture: Getty

China's proposal comes ahead of the one year anniversary of Russia's anniversary, around which Mr Zelenskyy has been meeting with Western leaders as he continues to maintain support for Ukraine.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden pledged to send more weapons to Ukraine in a surprise trip to the country, with Kyiv set to be given a $500m package.

A statement released by the White House on behalf of Mr Biden said the purpose of the visit was to "reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine's democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity".

Mr Biden made a $500m weapons pledge - with the US understood to be providing more rockets for HIMARS systems, and more anti-armour weapons to take out Russian tanks.

It appears Western governments are preparing for the war in Ukraine to rumble on for some time after UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC he expects the conflict to be going on next year.

Nick Ferrari exclusively interviews Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

Asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari if "we are going to be sitting here discussing this war in another 12 months," Mr Wallace said: "I think we will.

"I think Russia has shown a complete disregard, not only for the lives of the people of Ukraine, but for its own soldiers. You know, we are sitting here 12 months in and 188,000...Russian soldiers are dead or injured as a result of this catastrophic miscalculation and aggression by President Putin.

"And you know, when someone's crossed the line that they think it's okay to do that to your own people and is running effectively a meat grinder for an army, I think he's not going to stop."

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