Russia’s Putin backs China’s Ukraine peace plan ahead of Beijing visit

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview published early on Wednesday, said he backed China’s plan for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, saying Beijing had a full understanding of what lay behind the crisis.

Putin, speaking to China’s Xinhua news agency ahead of his visit to Beijing this week, said Russia remained open to dialogue and talks to solve the more than two-year-old conflict.

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China’s plan and further “principles” made public by President Xi Jinping last month took account of factors behind the conflict, Putin said.

“We are positive in our assessment of China’s approach to solving the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said, according to a Russian-language transcript on the Kremlin website. “In Beijing, they truly understand its root causes and its global geopolitical meaning.”

And the additional principles, set down by Xi in talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, were “realistic and constructive steps” that “develop the idea of the necessity to overcome the cold war mentality.”

Beijing put forward a 12-point paper more than a year ago that set out general principles for ending the war, but did not get into specifics.

It received a lukewarm reception at the time in both Russia and Ukraine, while the US said China was presenting itself as a peacemaker but reflecting Russia’s “false narrative” and failing to condemn its invasion.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last month called the proposal a “reasonable plan that the great Chinese civilization proposed for discussion.”

Xi’s additional principles call for a “cooling down” of the situation, conditions for restoring peace and creating stability and minimizing the impacts on the world economy.

Russia views the conflict as a struggle pitting it against the “collective West” which took no account of Moscow’s security concerns by promoting the eastward expansion of NATO and military activity close to its borders.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

Russia and China proclaimed a “no limits” relationship just days before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but Beijing has so far avoided providing actual weapons and ammunition for Russia’s war effort.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan calls for a withdrawal of Russian troops, the restoration of its 1991 post-Soviet borders and bringing Russia to account for its actions.

A “peace summit” is scheduled for Switzerland in June. But Russia is not invited, dismisses the initiative as meaningless and says talks must take account of “new realities.”

China has attended some preparatory talks for the summit and Ukraine has deployed great efforts to persuade it to attend.

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