Ukraine, Russia, welcomes China’s proposed peace deal as ‘a good sign’

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Ukraine and Russia have both welcomed China’s 12-point proposed peace plan to end the one-year conflict and urged Beijing to move with speed to iron out the rough spots on the way forward.

China’s plans have been widely endorsed around the world, albeit with precaution in the West, as the trust deficit among the warring sides remains huge.

The West, led by the US, has expressed doubt about China’s sincerity. They’ve cited the close “no-limits” bilateral ties that exist between Moscow and Beijing.

The US is particularly displeased that China has not described the Ukraine war as a “Russian invasion” and has refused to join the Western sanctions regime against Russia. The US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said only Russia could end the war they started when attacking Ukraine by withdrawing Russian forces.

Sullivan said: “Ukraine wasn’t attacking Russia. NATO wasn’t attacking Russia. The United States wasn’t attacking Russia. This was a war of choice waged by Putin.”

However, the Zelensky administration in Ukraine has described China’s position paper as “a good sign” and asked the world’s biggest developing economy “to do more”.

Signs of optimism have not only been noticed in Kyiv. In Moscow, Foreign Affairs communique said the Kremlin “highly appreciates the sincere desire of China” to broker a truce. Russia was open to a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, according to the official statement.

Ukraine’s ambassador to China, Zhanna Leshchynska, responded to the proposed peace plan positively, too, saying: “China should do everything in its power to stop the war and restore peace in Ukraine and urge Russia to withdraw its troops.”

China’s President Xi Jinping has publicly declared that his country had not chosen to be a bystander or add fuel to the fire – or exploit the crisis.

“China still stands on the side of dialogue and peace.  A political settlement of disputes through dialogue,” said President Xi.

A summary of China’s position paper lists the dozen proposed points for peace as follows: (1) Respecting the sovereignty of all countries. This must be strictly observed. “All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community,” the paper states. (2) Abandoning the Cold War mentality. This is a point that irritates the US the most. It is viewed as a veiled attack on Washington and the role the Biden administration is playing in the war, supporting Ukraine with almost more than 50 billion dollars and supplying lethal weapons the country’s army to fight Russia. Says China’s position paper: “The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others. (3) Ceasing hostilities. “Conflict and war benefit no one,” reads the paper. “All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible.”

(4) Resuming peace talks. “Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.”

(5) Resolving the humanitarian crisis. “Humanitarian operations should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized.” (6) Protecting civilians and Prisoners of War (POWs). “China supports the exchange of POWs between Russia and Ukraine and calls on all parties to create more favourable conditions for this purpose.” (7) Keeping nuclear power plants safe. “China opposes armed attacks against nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities and calls on all parties to comply with international law. (8) Reducing strategic risks. “Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought.” (9) Facilitating grain exports. “All parties need to implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Turkiye, Ukraine and the UN.” (10) Stopping unilateral sanctions. “Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the issue, they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions unauthorised by the UN Security Council .” (11) Keeping industrial and supply chains stable. “All parties should earnestly maintain the existing world economic system and oppose using the world economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes.”

(12) Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. “The international community needs to take measures to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict zones. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavour.”

Now, methinks the most important take-away from the Chinese peace proposal is the fact that key parties involved in the conflict – Russia and Ukraine – are upbeat about prospects of the plan.

Since the war broke out a year ago, on February 24, only China has put down proposed plans and published them for public scrutiny. They seem to appeal for every member of the international community to play their role in the peace efforts, something that must be applauded. In the early days of the war, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres did make a very public attempt to broker a peace deal, although the details of his proposals were never made public.

Direct interactions between Russia and Ukraine in the early days of the war were also promising but yielded no results pretty quickly.

It is in this light that China’s efforts deserve to be embraced and praised. Until China’s proposed 12 points, there had been nothing on the table to work with in pursuit of peace. The truth is powerful nations that are participating in the conflict behind Ukraine have never put before the global community a set of proposals aimed at ending the war. Instead, the US has pumped billions of dollars in the coffers of Kyiv to remain in the battlefield. The US has successfully mobilised their allies in the EU to join the proxy war against Russia through NATO, notably. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General, has largely barked war cries and constantly threatens Russia with Article 5, which refers to an “attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all”.

The war talk across the West has only served to harden the positions on all sides, with none of the protagonists coming forth to give peace a chance. China’s proposal may not be perfect. That is to be expected. However, it is the best starting point.

When the conflict does come to an end – and soon it will – history will judge Beijing favourably for working to save lives, instead of killing many more innocent men, women and children on all sides of the Ukraine war.