Russia Ukraine conflict

China special envoy Li Hui to visit Ukraine, Russia, EU states this week

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China’s Eurasia envoy Li Hui will visit Russia, Ukraine and the headquarters of the European Union this week for talks on the two-year-old war between Moscow and Kyiv, Beijing announced Wednesday.

The trip will represent “the second round of shuttle diplomacy on seeking a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding Li would also go to France, Germany and Poland.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our dedicated page.

Li visited the region last year as part of efforts to mediate the conflict, holding talks in Moscow, Kyiv and a host of European capitals.

China says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine war but has been criticized for refusing to condemn Moscow for its invasion in February 2022.

Beijing released a paper last year calling for a “political settlement” to the conflict, which Western countries said could enable Russia to retain much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.

China said on Wednesday the “most urgent thing at the moment is to restore peace.”

“In the past two years, we have never given up in our efforts to promote peace and have never stopped promoting talks,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a briefing.

“Everything we have done leads to one target, which is to build consensus to end the war and pave the way for peace talks,” she said.

“We will continue to play our unique role, conduct shuttle diplomacy, build consensus among all parties, and contribute Chinese wisdom to promote a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,” Mao said.

China and Russia have in recent years ramped up economic cooperation and diplomatic contacts, and their strategic partnership has grown closer since the invasion of Ukraine.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin declared during a summit in Moscow last year that ties were “entering a new era.”

And in Russia this week, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong declared relations “are at their best period in history.”

Analysts say China holds the upper hand in the relationship with Russia and that its sway is growing as Moscow’s international isolation deepens.

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