Key objectives for Moscow and Beijing — opinion

China’s Foreign Ministry released its own vision of the end of Russia’s war against Ukraine, ahead of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing.

Putin’s visit to China was expected to receive much attention. And not only because it was a symbolic visit: China became the first country that the Russian leader visited after his “re-election” (although, from another point of view, where else should he travel? The list of countries that Putin can visit has been significantly reduced after Russia’s attack on Ukraine).

This trip was preceded by visits to Beijing by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Paris and his talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

It might seem that Chinese President Xi Jinping, as a leader who can communicate both with the leaders of Western countries and with Putin, is able to call the Russian president to come to his senses, to stop the war.

The words about the need for a peaceful settlement of the conflict were indeed heard in Beijing. However, we can now clearly see that the Chinese vision of such a settlement is significantly different from the Ukrainian and Western ones.

Read also: China dictates peace plan terms - expert view

China’s Foreign Ministry released its own vision of the end of the war ahead of Putin’s visit to Beijing, which could be characterized as a plan to “freeze” the conflict without any guarantees of security and restoration of the principles of international law, which were almost destroyed by Russia.

And Putin hastily approved this plan, both before the visit and during his stay in China. Either he’s really interested in a truce, or he’s convinced that Ukraine and the West won’t approve such proposals, that’s why he can play the role of a “peacemaker” without any risk.

What we could really see during Putin’s visit to the Chinese capital was the joint efforts of Russia and China not so much to torpedo the [upcoming Global] Peace Summit in Switzerland, but to change its agenda, to demonstrate that there are alternative settlement plans, to reduce the very idea of ending the war to a mere ceasefire.

Such wording can cast China as a mediator in the conflict, and for Russia the image of a “peace-loving country.” However, it doesn’t guarantee either peace or security for Ukraine.

However, such an approach can play well for the Global South countries. After all, the summit in Switzerland is designed precisely for their participation, because the leaders of Western countries support the Ukrainian approach even without such meetings.

It’s symbolic that on the day of Putin’s stay in [Chinese city of] Harbin, the presidents of South Africa and Brazil—Cyril Ramaphosa and Lula da Silva—two old friends of Russia and China, refused the invitation to the summit.

In fact, this is the key task for Moscow and Beijing now — to reduce the number of participants, achieve competition between peace plans, and encourage a weak resolution at the summit itself.

Because in this case, China—now on behalf of many Global South countries—will be able to remind that the West has failed in its peacekeeping mission and there’s simply no alternative to Russian-Ukrainian negotiations (perhaps under Chinese auspices). And it’s for this reason that Putin and Xi Jinping are making great efforts not so much to disrupt the Swiss Peace Summit, but to change its agenda.

Read also: China a key supplier to Russia’s military complex — Blinken

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