Lavrov Hails China's "Balanced Position" On War As Ukraine Asked To Give Up Territory
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed China's "balanced position" on the conflict in Ukraine during a Friday meeting with Chinese special envoy Li Hui in Moscow.
China has thus far resisted Western pressure to condemn Moscow, but has instead tried to present a neutral stance while issuing occasional statements condemning NATO expansion and US global dominance. Beijing has also been among a handful of Asian countries to have greatly expanded Russian energy imports since the start of the war.
The Chinese envoy on Friday once again called for an immediate ceasefire, at a moment Russian forces are consolidating gains in Donetsk, particularly in Bakhmut where Wagner finally declared victory over the weekend following more than 200 days of fierce fighting.
According to The Wall Street Journal Li Hui conveyed a clear message that: "US allies in Europe should assert their autonomy and urge an immediate ceasefire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts [of Ukraine] ...that it now occupies."
China has also sent representatives to Ukraine and Europe, with EU officials conveying their stance that freezing the conflict was not in their interest. The Zelensky government too believes that a 'freeze' would only allow the Russians to resupply, regroup, and fortify their positions. Western allies have also been arguing against a freeze.
EU officials reportedly told the Chinese envoy that "it’s impossible to split Europe from America" and that Europe remains committed and unified in support of Ukraine.
According to a review of Friday's meeting between Russian and Chinese representatives:
Russia’s Lavrov expressed gratitude for China’s “balanced position” and willingness to play a positive role in a meeting with China’s Ukraine envoy, the foreign ministry said.
China’s Li Hui, who spent 10 years as ambassador to Moscow, has been on a tour of European capitals, and last week visited Kyiv.
After those talks, China said it wanted to “form the greatest common denominator for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and make its own efforts to stop the fighting and (establish a) ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible”.
Kyiv has told Li, however, that it would not accept any proposal that involved Ukraine losing territory.
Hawks in both Britain and the United States have urged Ukraine to stay the course, despite mounting troop casualties in the tens of thousands. The UK especially has long been accused of actively thwarting attempts at peace talks which were proposed last year - instead encouraging Ukraine to 'win' militarily. President Zelensky has all the while maintained that talks with Moscow are impossible until Russian troops leave every bit of Ukrainian territory.