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China on Wednesday called on Ukraine and Russia to kick-start peace talks just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the war by mobilizing conscripts to join the fight.
“We call on the parties concerned to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation and find a solution that accommodates all parties’ legitimate security concerns,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin told reporters. “We also hope the international community will create conditions and space for that.”
Wenbin’s comments echoed talking points Beijing has spouted since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly seven months ago, accusing the West of prolonging the war by not taking seriously Russia’s alleged security concerns.
When asked China’s position regarding Russia’s announcement this week that it intends to hold “referendums” on annexing at least four regions in Ukraine, including the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson areas, Wenbin said Beijing’s stance was “consistent and clear.”
“We believe that all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, that the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter should be observed, that the legitimate security concerns of any country should be taken seriously,” he added.
China has consistently refused to condemn Russia’s war and has called on the international community to “take seriously” Russia’s expressed security concerns, particularly as it relates to NATO.
Putin attempted to justify his “special military operation” in Ukraine by saying it was a necessary measure to ensure Ukraine did not join NATO, which he views as a chief threat to Russia.
President Biden struck down these claims Wednesday at the 77th U.N. General Assembly, saying, “No one threatened Russia and no one other than Russia sought conflict.”
“Putin’s own words make his true purpose unmistakable,” Biden said. “Just before he invaded, Putin asserted and I quote: ‘Ukraine was created by Russia and never had real statehood.’”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday warned against the expanding relationship between Russia and China amid the war in Ukraine, and said the threat it poses to Western nations is getting “closer.”
“China is becoming a more and more important part of the security environment that we have to respond to,” he said. “This increases the importance of NATO allies standing together and realizing that China is part of the security challenges we need to face today and in the future.”