Xi Jinping and Alexander Lukashenko call for a peace deal “as soon as possible” for Ukraine.
During their talks in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko called for a cease-fire and negotiations for a political settlement to the Ukrainian conflict.
The two leaders issued a joint statement on Wednesday expressing their “deep concern about the development of armed conflict in the European region and their keen interest in bringing peace to Ukraine as soon as possible,” according to the Belarusian state news agency.
“Belarus and China are interested in avoiding an escalation of the crisis and are ready to make efforts to restore peace and order in the region,” she added.
Their summit brought together two foreign leaders that Russian President Vladimir Putin is counting on for support as his military struggles to achieve the goals of its year-old invasion.
Beijing has become increasingly vocal in calling for peace as the conflict drags on in Ukraine, and has denied it would provide arms to Moscow after US officials said China was considering doing so.
Last week, it issued a 12-point paper calling for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine that largely summed up China’s previous position and met with skepticism in the West.
In televised remarks, Xi said China is keen to enhance trust and cooperation with Belarus “in light of the instability and turmoil of the international situation.”
In an apparent reference to the United States and its allies, Xi added, “Relevant countries should stop politicizing the global economy and using it as their tool, and take measures that truly promote a cease-fire, stop the war, and resolve the crisis peacefully.”
‘Slipping into a global confrontation’
Lukashenko said the meeting was taking place “at a very complicated time” and was necessary to prevent “an uncontrolled descent into a global confrontation with no winners”.
He said that Xi, in his peace plan, “has stated this clearly and emphatically to the international community.
“That is why Belarus is actively putting forward its proposals for peace, comprehensively supporting your drive on international security,” he added.
China has long had a close relationship with Lukashenko, and after their talks, the two leaders oversaw the signing of a raft of cooperation agreements in areas ranging from agriculture to customs enforcement and sports.
However, the Belarusian leader’s trip also demonstrated the depth of Beijing’s ties to Russian leader Putin and his allies.
China has said it is a neutral party to the conflict and has maintained contacts with the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has cautiously welcomed Beijing’s participation, but said success will depend on actions, not words.
Despite this, China said it had a “friendship without borders” with Russia and refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion, or even refer to it as such.
It accused the United States and NATO of fomenting the conflict and “fanning the flames” by providing defensive weapons to Ukraine, while also condemning sanctions against Russia and entities seen as aiding its military efforts – including Chinese companies.
Belarus shares borders with both Ukraine and Russia, but is financially and politically dependent on the Putin administration. Lukashenko’s government strongly supported Moscow and allowed the territory of Belarus to be used as a staging ground for the initial invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
Russia kept a contingent of troops and weapons in Belarus, and the two neighbors and allies conducted joint military exercises.
This stance has made Lukashenko even more isolated in Europe, as his country faces European Union sanctions for its role in the war and Lukashenko’s suppression of domestic opposition.
China also has longstanding ties with Lukashenko, who has been the sole president of Belarus since the post was created in 1994. He brutally suppressed 2020 protests against his disputed re-election in a vote the opposition and Western countries deemed rigged.
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