- By George Wright and Jaroslav Lukiv
- BBC news
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he plans to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing’s proposals on ending the war in Ukraine.
Speaking on the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion, he said the proposal signaled China’s commitment to seeking peace.
“I really want to believe that China will not supply arms to Russia,” he said.
China’s plan calls for peace talks and respect for national sovereignty.
However, the 12-point document does not specifically say that Russia should withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and it also condemns the use of “unilateral sanctions” in what is seen as veiled criticism of Ukraine’s allies in the West.
The Chinese authorities have so far not publicly responded to Mr Zelensky’s call for a summit with Mr Xi.
Meanwhile, Russia praised China’s peace proposals. “We share Beijing’s view,” the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement.
Asked about the Chinese plan, US President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday: “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin applauds it, so how can it be a good thing?
“I have not seen anything in the plan that would indicate that there is anything that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia,” he added.
China appears to be siding with Russia, although it would like to find a way to bail out President Putin by striking some sort of peace deal, says John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs editor.
The Chinese proposals follow a visit by the country’s top diplomat Wang Yi to Moscow, where he met President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.
After the talks, China’s state news agency Xinhua said Wang was willing to “deepen political confidence” and “strengthen strategic coordination” with Moscow.
Western officials have reacted lukewarm to the latest proposals. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Beijing “doesn’t have much credibility” because it “has been unable to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine”.
President Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and Russian forces made significant advances in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine in the first few days.
But the attack on the capital Kiev was quickly repelled and the Ukrainian army was later able to recapture large areas.
The conflict – the largest in Europe since World War II – has since turned into a grueling war of attrition.
At a lengthy press conference in Kiev on Friday, Zelensky also said victory “is inevitable” if the allies “respect their promises and deadlines”.
Poland said it had already delivered four German-made Leopard II tanks to Ukraine and was ready to deliver more. Germany has said it will provide 14 Leopard tanks, while Spain and Canada will also send tanks.
The US – by far the largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine – has pledged to send 31 of its M1 Abrams tanks and the UK is providing 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
The Ukrainian leader added that his country had failed to deal sufficiently with countries in Africa and Latin America after many countries in those continents abstained from voting in a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution condemning the invasion of Russia.
“We haven’t worked properly for years, we haven’t been paying attention, I think it’s a big mistake,” he said.
Asked if he could name his worst moment of the war so far, Zelensky said in Bucha, a town outside Kiev where Russian troops are accused of killing civilians early in the war. The town was under Russian control until Ukrainian troops fought back to reclaim it last April.
‘What I saw. It was horrible,” said Mr. Zelensky, visibly moved.
The US marked a year since Russia invaded Ukraine by announcing a new set of sanctions against Russia and new aid to Ukraine.
The latest restrictions target more than 100 entities both in Russia and globally, including banks and defense equipment suppliers. The US said it wants to stop those helping Russia from exploiting loopholes to get sanctioned materials.
The new White House bailout for Ukraine is worth $12 billion, of which $2 billion will come from the Defense Department, including munitions and drones, and $10 billion from the State Department, including budget support to the Ukrainian government.
Another $550 million will be delivered to both Ukraine and neighboring Moldova to strengthen their energy infrastructure.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and has been hit hard by the war. The leaders have been warning for several weeks that Russia is planning to seize power.
On Friday, the EU also approved its 10th round of sanctions against Russia, imposing restrictions on civilian and military dual-use technology.