Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday he is open to certain elements of a peace proposal put forward by China to end the war in Ukraine.
China released its 12-point peace plan, which it calls a “position paper,” Friday after top diplomat Wang Yi hinted it would be published earlier in the week. Western powers expressed skepticism about the seriousness of the proposal, which echoes several positions held by Russia that have been dismissed by Ukraine.
Among the bullet points more closely aligned with the wishes of Zelenskyy and the West are respecting the sovereignty of all countries, implementing a ceasefire to hold peace talks, protecting nuclear sites and facilitating grain exports. However, there are other points which have been characterized as non-starters by Kyiv.
⚡️A “plan” for a demilitarized zone between Russia and Ukraine appeared in the Chinese segment of the network as part of China’s peace initiative. pic.twitter.com/fWtWJCH3XU
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) February 24, 2023
China reportedly wants to implement a demilitarized zone that would take up vast swathes of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine has demanded returning borders to pre-2014 status, when Russia first aggressed into Crimea.
The position paper also says China opposes “unilateral sanctions” on Russia and the expansion of “military blocs” such as NATO, which it says foster a “Cold War mentality.”
The State Department has been relatively dismissive of China’s potential role as a peacemaker in the conflict, pointing to the fact that China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion or even to call it a war. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has also played a key role in providing economic and diplomatic assistance to Russia as it has been isolated from the West.
“China’s been trying to have it both ways,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, referring to China’s insistence on neutrality while it aids Russia. Blinken warned earlier in February that China may consider providing lethal aid to Russia, and that there would be severe consequences for doing so.
NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg was also skeptical, saying Friday that China “doesn’t have much credibility” since the country has not actually condemned Russia’s war. (RELATED: China Accuses Biden Of ‘Abuse Of Force’ In Balloon Incident In Stark Message To Blinken)
Zelenskyy himself struck a slightly more optimistic tone. “I think it’s correct to think that if there are thoughts that, in one way or another, correspond with respect for international law, to territorial integrity,” he said during a Friday news conference in Kyiv. “Let’s work with China on this point.”