President Volodymr Zelensky of Ukraine said he had a “long and meaningful” phone call with Xi Jinping of China. It is their first communication since the start of Russia’s conflict.
On Twitter, he expressed his belief that the call and the appointment of an ambassador to Beijing would “give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations”.
China confirmed the call, adding that it “always stood on the side of peace”. Until now, Beijing has sought to show a neutral stance on the Russian invasion.
But it has never condemned the invasion and last month President Xi paid a two-day state visit to Russia.
He referred to President Vladimir Putin as his “dear friend”, proposed a vague 12-point peace plan and insisted that China stood on the right side of history. However, he made no commitment to providing Russia with weapons.
President Zelensky invited the Chinese leader to Kyiv for talks a few days after his visit. He stressed that they had communicated before the full-scale war. However, their communication had severed since the invasion started in February 2022.
China’s CCTV quoted Xi as saying that China will “neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit” in a readout of the phone chat from Wednesday.