China steps up Ukraine ceasefire bid; Xi Jinping aims show of weight
By Manish Anand
New Delhi, February 24: The US-led western alliance hasn’t dropped even slightest of hints to pursue ceasefire in the Ukraine War. The western block seems to have tasted blood and may go for the kill with liberal supplies of arms to Ukraine. But China has stepped out to put its neck out in pursuit of its balance of power ambitions by putting out position paper, calling for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue.
The Chinese paper came on a day when the US imposed a fresh sanction on several entities, which included a few from China also for doing business with Moscow. A German magazine Der Spiegel claimed that Russia is in talks to procure drones from a Chinese company. Russia is extensively using Iranian drones to bomb Ukrainian cities. Ukraine is also being provided with a rich supply of drones by the western allies. But China, which has so far shoed away from supplying even spare parts to Russia, may invite the wrath of the western powers by crossing the lines by agreeing to supply the drones.
The Chinese position paper was peppered by hard talks by its spokesperson who accused the US-led western powers of unilateralism, of imposing sanctions. Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of the Ministry of foreign affairs of China, gave a tongue-lashing to the western powers, warning them not mess up with Asia in a reference to Indo pacific.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zlenskyy, who is seeking more military hardware, including battle tanks, has partly acknowledged the Chinese position paper. Zelenskyy by stating that he is eager to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to convey that Beijing still has the leverage with Moscow to push for a pullout of the Russian forces from the Ukrainian territory. Currently, Russia with the help of mercenaries is seeking to wrest control of Bakhmut.
Xi’s likely visit to Moscow and Kyiv next month may turn out to be the last hope for any breakthrough in the Ukraine War. Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding the nuclear option alive even while its use in any form may bring several actors into the war theatre. China will be keen to persuade Putin to abandon the losing war, and stamp its strategic relevance in the global order.
The Chinese overdrive in the Ukraine War appears to have come on the back of a strategy as seen in the whirlwind tour of Europe by its top diplomat Wang Yi. Xi is likely to lean on a tired Europe to pressure the US to get Zelenskyy talking to Russia for a negotiated settlement.