The United States urges Xi to pressure Putin over “war crimes” in Ukraine

  • By Marita Moloney
  • BBC News

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The United States has urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to pressure Vladimir Putin to stop Russia’s “war crimes” in Ukraine.

The two will meet again on Tuesday for official talks during President Xi’s first visit to Moscow since the invasion.

A spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House called on President Xi to urge his Russian counterpart to withdraw troops from Ukraine.

John Kirby said seeking a cease-fire would not be enough.

“We hope that President Xi will pressure President Putin to stop bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals and schools, stop war crimes and atrocities, and withdraw his forces,” he said.

“But we are concerned that China will instead repeat calls for a ceasefire that leaves Russian forces inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory, and any ceasefire that does not address the removal of Russian forces from Ukraine will effectively endorse illegal Russian conquests,” he added.

Putin said he would discuss a 12-point plan proposed by Xi “to settle the acute crisis in Ukraine”.

“We are always open to the negotiation process,” Putin said, while the leaders called each other “dear friend.”

China released its plan to Ending the war last month Includes a “cessation of hostilities” and a resumption of peace talks.

China’s plan did not specifically say that Russia should withdraw from Ukraine – something Ukraine has insisted on as a precondition for any talks.

Instead, it spoke of “respecting the sovereignty of all countries,” adding that “all parties should remain rational and exercise restraint” and “gradually de-escalate the situation.”

The plan also condemns the use of “unilateral sanctions” – seen as veiled criticism of Ukraine’s allies in the West.

On Monday, a military contingent warmly welcomed Mr. Xi to Moscow. Putin praised China for “observing the principles of justice” and pushing for “undivided security of every country”.

He added that China has made a “huge leap forward in its development” in recent years, noting that “we feel a little envious.”

In return, Mr. Xi told Putin: “Under your strong leadership, Russia has made great strides in its prosperous development. I am confident that the Russian people will continue to give you their unwavering support.”

Prior to Xi’s arrival, Putin had written in China’s People’s Daily that the two countries would not be weakened by “aggressive” US policy.

Publicly, Ukrainian leaders have emphasized the common ground they have with China — respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity — but privately they have been pushing for a meeting or phone call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Mr. Xi.

This was echoed by Mr. Kirby, the US security spokesperson, who urged Mr. Xi to “play a constructive role” in efforts to end the conflict by speaking with Mr. Zelensky.

The fear in Kiev is that China’s support for Russia — currently based on technology and trade — could become military, potentially including artillery.

Russia is a source of oil to Beijing’s huge economy, and is seen as a partner in opposing the United States.

The meeting comes days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president over allegations of war crimes. This means that Putin can technically be arrested in 123 countries – although neither China nor Russia is on that list.

Western leaders have been trying since last February to isolate Russia, after its massive invasion of Ukraine.

But they were unable to reach a global consensus, with China, India and many African countries reluctant to condemn Putin.

See also  The last war between Ukraine and Russia: What we know on day 201 of the invasion | Russia

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