Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has asked China to provide security guarantees for Kyiv, in a lengthy interview containing some of the most direct criticisms of Moscow published by Beijing’s state media.
Western powers and Ukraine have repeatedly urged China to condemn Russia’s invasion as it tries to maintain a supposedly neutral stance, with the US threatening consequences if Beijing provides military or economic support to Moscow.
“Ukraine is studying the possibility of acquiring security guarantees from permanent members of the UN Security Council, including China, and other major powers,” Kuleba was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.
“We propose that China becomes one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s security, this is a sign of our respect and trust in the People’s Republic of China,” Kuleba added.
China in 2013 pledged to provide Ukraine with “security guarantees” if it was invaded or threatened with nuclear attack, but appeared evasive on the same issue in the wake of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.
Asked about the guarantee last month, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman suggested that such “security assurances have clear limitations on the content and are triggered under specific conditions,” in reference to a similar UN security resolution on non-nuclear states.
Chinese officials have often blamed NATO for provoking Moscow’s invasion and accused the West of escalating the conflict by sending weapons to Ukraine.
Beijing’s state media has also repeatedly amplified Russian propaganda surrounding the war and largely avoided attributing Ukrainian civilian deaths to Moscow’s military aggression.
Kuleba has only had two calls with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) since the invasion, while Wang met Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov in China last month and reiterated that cooperation between the two countries has “no limits.”
In the Xinhua interview, Kuleba also accused Russia of having “compromised” Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, saying that the consequences of the global food security crisis would threaten China’s economy.
“We also believe that this war is not in China’s interests,” he was quoted as saying.
His remarks directly referred to Russia’s actions as an “invasion” — a term that Chinese officials and state media have sought to avoid.
“The situation is not escalating because of Ukraine. We are exercising our right to defend ourselves,” he said, in an apparent rebuff of Chinese warnings against other states providing arms to Kyiv.
While Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has not yet spoken publicly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he called Russian President Vladimir Putin the day after the invasion.
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