Chinese proposal could be basis for peace
After talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Chinese proposals could be used as the basis of a peace settlement in Ukraine but the West and Kyiv were not yet ready.
In a joint statement issued at the end of Xi's state visit to Moscow, the two men cautioned against any steps that might push the Ukraine conflict into an "uncontrollable phase", adding, "There can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it must never be unleashed".
Putin accused Western powers of fighting "to the last Ukrainian", while Xi reiterated China's "neutral position" on Ukraine and called for dialogue.
"We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side," Putin said.
China's proposal - a 12-point paper calling for a de-escalation and eventual ceasefire in Ukraine - lacks details on how to end the war.
The United States has been dismissive of the Chinese proposal, given Beijing's refusal to condemn Russia over Ukraine, and says a ceasefire now would lock in Russian territorial gains and give Putin's army more time to regroup.
Kyiv has welcomed China's diplomatic involvement but says Russia must pull its troops out of Ukraine, and underlines the importance of Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The Kremlin talks were intended to cement the "no limits" partnership the two leaders announced last February, less than three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.
They signed a series of documents on a "strategic cooperation" after what Putin described as "successful and constructive" talks showing China was clearly now Russia's most important economic partner.
"I am convinced that our multi-faceted cooperation will continue to develop for the good of the peoples of our countries," Putin said in televised remarks.
Xi's state visit is a major boost to Putin as he squares off against what he sees as a hostile West bent on inflicting a "strategic defeat" on Russia.
The Chinese leader visited Moscow days after an international court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over Russia's actions in Ukraine, where Russian forces have made little progress in recent months despite suffering heavy losses.
In their joint statement, Xi and Putin also called on the United States to stop "undermining global strategic security" and to cease developing a global missile defence system.
While pledging more regular joint military drills, however, the two leaders said their closer bilateral relationship was not directed against any third nation and that it did not constitute a "military-political alliance".
Putin said Russia, China and Mongolia had completed all agreements on a planned pipeline to ship Russian gas to China, and that Moscow was ready to increase oil exports to Beijing.
He also said Moscow was ready to help Chinese businesses replace Western firms that have left Russia over the Ukraine conflict.