Listen to article
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a case for direct talks with China’s Xi Jinping even as he urged Beijing to use its political and economic influence on Russia to help end the war in his country.
Zelenskyy told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in an interview published on Thursday that he has been asking for a conversation with the Chinese president since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, but that one is yet to take place.
end of list
‘I would like to talk directly. I had one conversation with [President] Xi Jinping that was a year ago,’ he told the Hong Kong-based newspaper over Zoom. ‘Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression on February 24, we have asked officially for a conversation, but we [haven’t had] any conversation with China even though I believe that would be helpful.’
China, Russia’s most important ally, is yet to condemn what Russian President Vladimir Putin has called a “special military operation” in Ukraine, which he says is aimed at ‘denazifying’ and demilitarising the country. The six-month conflict has killed at least 5,327 civilians in Ukraine and forced some 12 million people from their homes. The fighting has also prevented grain from leaving the country, which is known as ‘the breadbasket of the world’, worsening food shortages and driving price rises across the globe.
Zelenskyy and his Western allies have called Russia’s invasion a war of aggression, but Beijing says Moscow was provoked into attacking, including due to NATO’s expansion in Europe.
Xi has previously expressed concern over the conflict in Ukraine during a summit in June, saying that it “sounded an alarm for humanity”. He gave no indication of how to end the fighting, however.