(Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese special envoy Li Hui discussed prospects for resolving the conflict in Ukraine at a meeting in Moscow on Friday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
China, which signed a “no limits” partnership with Russia less than three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine last year, has not only refrained from criticising Moscow but also dramatically expanded its Russian energy imports since the start of the war.
It has put forward a 12-point plan for peace in Ukraine that involves declaring a ceasefire but does not stipulate that Russia should withdraw from any of the territory it has seized, which for Ukraine is an essential requirement.
At the meeting, Lavrov expressed gratitude for China’s “balanced position” and willingness to play a positive role, his ministry said.
Li, who spent 10 years as ambassador to Moscow, has been on a tour of European capitals, and last week visited Kyiv.
After those talks, China said it wanted to “form the greatest common denominator for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and make its own efforts to stop the fighting and (establish a) ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible”.
Kyiv said its foreign minister had told Li that it would not accept any proposal that involved Ukraine losing territory or freezing the conflict.
Published in February, China’s 12-point plan presented a set of broad principles but did not contain any detailed roadmap towards peace. It drew scepticism from the West, with NATO saying Beijing lacked credibility as a mediator.
In a meeting with officials from the European Union in Brussels on Thursday, Li said China had always upheld an objective and just position on the Ukrainian issue and actively promoted peace talks.
(Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)