Following months of badgering by the Europeans to take a more active role in stopping the conflict in Ukraine, President Xi is reportedly considering one-on-one talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (what would be the first round of direct talks between the two since the invasion began) following a round of lower-level talks.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin telegraphed on Tuesday that it would also be open to direct talks between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but only if the two sides could first agree on a formal document outlining terms.
According to Bloomberg, Foreign Minster Wang Yi expressed a desire for China to take a more active role in cease-fire talks (as the Europeans have been begging Beijing to do) during a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba (the meeting marked their first exchange since March 1).
However, Wang made no new commitments about mediating the conflict.
Wang noted that Xi had "comprehensively expounded" on the need for dialogue and peace talks, but the Chinese diplomat made no new commitments toward mediating the conflict. "China does not seek geopolitical interests, nor will it watch the event from a safe distance while sitting idle, or add fuel to the fire," Wang said.
In a tweet about the meeting, Kuleba said he was "grateful" for his Chinese counterpart, and insisted that they both "share the conviction that ending the war against Ukraine serves common interests of peace."
Had a call with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Grateful to my Chinese counterpart for solidarity with civilian victims. We both share the conviction that ending the war against Ukraine serves common interests of peace, global food security, and international trade.— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 4, 2022
Following Xi’s video summit on Friday with European Union leaders, a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official said a call between the Chinese and Ukrainian leaders has “always been on the agenda.”
Meanwhile, as the Europeans bandy about a proposal for more sanctions on Moscow (including a ban on coal imports) in response to (again, alleged) brutality in Bucha, the Kremlin denounced the allegations about "atrocities" in Bucha as an attempt to smear the Russian Army. Although the Kremlin declined to comment on the progress of peace talks, it didn't outright reject the possibility of a meeting.
- KREMLIN SAYS WE DON'T REJECT POSSIBILITY OF A PUTIN-ZELENSKIY MEETING BUT IT'S ONLY POSSIBLE ONCE A DOCUMENT HAS BEEN AGREED
- KREMLIN DECLINES TO COMMENT ON PROGRESS OF TALKS WITH UKRAINE KREMLIN SAYS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST RUSSIA OVER EVENTS IN BUCHA ARE WITHOUT FOUNDATION
- KREMLIN SAYS THIS WAS CLEAR ATTEMPT TO SMEAR RUSSIAN ARMY
- KREMLIN SAYS THIS WAS A MONSTROUS FORGERY
- KREMLIN SAYS RUSSIAN INITIATIVES BEING BLOCKED IN UNITED NATIONS BUT WE WON'T REMAIN IDLE
- KREMLIN SAYS WE KNOW NEW SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA ARE POSSIBLE, AMERICANS NOT LIKELY TO STOP 'FAVOURITE PRACTICE'
- KREMLIN, ASKED ABOUT BIDEN SAYING PUTIN SHOULD BE TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES, SAYS THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND UNWORTHY OF A U.S. PRESIDENT
- KREMLIN SAYS EXPULSIONS OF RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS ARE REGRETTABLE, SHORT-SIGHTED, WILL INEVITABLY LEAD TO RECIPROCAL RESPONSE BY MOSCOW
- KREMLIN SAYS RUSSIA IS NOT IN A RUSH TO SWITCH PAYMENTS IN ROUBLES FOR ALL EXPORTS
- KREMLIN SAYS SUCH PROCESS SHOULD BE GRADUAL AND WELL-PREPARED
Finally, as the Europeans and Washington try to stoke international outrage over what President Biden described as "war crimes" in Bucha, Reuters pointed out Tuesday that even the Pentagon couldn't confirm Moscow's involvement.
Per the report, the US military "is not in a position to independently confirm Ukrainian accounts of atrocities by Russian forces against civilians in the town of Bucha" - although it has no obvious reason to dispute the account, either. One official who spoke anonymously called the images of the alleged atrocities "deeply troubling."
The Kremlin, meanwhile, has vociferously denied allegations of Russian involvement in the atrocities, denouncing them as a "monstrous" forgery.