A special Chinese envoy visits Kiev, Moscow, and European parties regarding the Ukrainian crisis


Over the past few months, China has sought to position itself as a mediator and play a leading role in resolving crises in the world, and has said that it is a neutral party in the war in Ukraine. And the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday that China’s special representative on Eurasian affairs will visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia starting from May 15 to promote peace talks between Moscow and Kiev, to be the highest Chinese diplomat to visit Kiev.

Beijing has faced criticism for its refusal to condemn Moscow over the invasion. More than a year after the war broke out, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky by phone last month. Chinese state television quoted Xi as telling Zelensky at the time that negotiations were the only solution to war. Beijing later announced that Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Russia from 2009 to 2019, would lead a delegation to Ukraine.

“The Chinese government’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, will visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia to communicate with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press conference. Wang promised that Li’s tour showed “China’s commitment to promoting peace and talks” and “fully shows that China stands firmly on the side of peace,” adding, as quoted by several news agencies, “China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in building more international consensus on A cease-fire, an end to the war, the start of peace talks, and the avoidance of an escalation of the situation. Commenting on the visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who is currently in Norway, said: “We are all concerned about the situation and call for peace and a political solution, which China supports and encourages from the first day of the conflict.” But choosing Lee as a special envoy raised questions. Before leaving Moscow in his capacity as ambassador, President Vladimir Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship.

The Chinese president’s phone call to Zelensky followed a 12-point proposal for a ceasefire, quickly rejected by Kiev’s allies, as a one-sided deal that would benefit the Kremlin. Western countries criticized the document for its vague wording, noting that it prompted Zelensky to announce his openness to talks with Xi. The document’s first point states that “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states must be effectively preserved.” But China has consistently refused to explain why this is related to the war in Ukraine.

In a related context, a senior Italian political source confirmed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will arrive Sunday in Rome, where he will meet President Sergio Mattarella, before heading to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis and then to hold talks with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

The times of Zelensky’s arrival and his meetings in the Italian capital are still shrouded in complete secrecy, after the security services raised protection measures to the highest levels, following the circulation of information about the possibility that some parties rejecting the official Italian position on the war would take protest movements.


There is no doubt that the meeting between Zelensky and Pope Francis will be the main stage of this visit, given the very discreet mediation role that Vatican diplomacy has been playing for some time to reach a cease-fire and pave the way for negotiations between Moscow and Kiev. Diplomatic sources in the Vatican who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat say that Zelensky’s meeting with the Pope indicates that there is a willingness, at least on the Ukrainian side, to reach a truce in the battles, especially since Kiev announced yesterday the postponement of the counter-attack on the regions occupied by Russia under the pretext of waiting for more attacks. western supplies.

In addition, the Ukrainian authorities had more than once expressed their dissatisfaction with some of the Pope’s statements, which suggested that the Vatican stands at the same distance between Moscow and Kiev, and he also apologized several times for accepting an invitation to visit Kiev unless it was within the framework of a visit to the Russian and Ukrainian capitals. . But Francis recently said that Moscow is the aggressor, and in all his recent sermons he calls for solidarity and prayer for the “suffering Ukrainian people.”

A diplomatic source in the Vatican admits that the attempt to mediate by Catholic diplomacy is still facing major obstacles, most notably the Western and NATO position, which seems uncomfortable with what some consider neutrality between the two parties to the conflict, and Moscow’s refusal so far to respond to this attempt.

On the Italian side, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is facing a critical situation, although since her accession to power early last fall she has been keen to make her relations with Ukraine and the political and military support provided by Italy one of the main headlines of her foreign policy and a card to reassure Western allies, especially the United States, that she will continue to do so. The policy of her predecessor, Mario Draghi.

The reason for this embarrassment is that Meloni heads a coalition government alongside League leader Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, who are politically and personally closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Salvini does not miss an occasion except to criticize the position of the Western allies on the war and the continued supply of war aid to Ukraine, while Berlusconi called more than once to listen to Putin’s conditions and respond to them, and he directed harsh criticism directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is expected that Salvini, who holds the position of deputy prime minister, will be absent from the meeting between Meloni and Zelensky, and will be attended by the coordinator of the Forza Italia party, Antonio Taiani, in his capacity as foreign minister and not as Berlusconi’s deputy.



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