The top Chinese minister rarely calls a Ukrainian colleague before Xi’s visit to Russia

China’s foreign minister made a rare phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart to express concern that the war in Europe is spiraling out of control and urged talks with Russia for a solution.

The call came Thursday ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to Moscow on March 20 in an apparent show of support for his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

It has been more than a year since Putin launched an unprovoked war in Ukraine that has resulted in over eight million displaced people and thousands of civilians.

Chinese Minister Qin Gang told Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing has “always taken an objective and fair stance on the Ukraine issue, committed to promoting peace and the progress of negotiations, and called on the international community to create conditions for peace talks.”

Beijing is concerned that a resolution to the “crisis” may be delayed, leading to an escalation of the situation, the ministry’s website said in a statement.

The Ukrainian minister later said in a tweet that they discussed “the importance of the principle of territorial integrity.”

“I underlined the importance [Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s] Peace formula to end aggression and restore a just peace in Ukraine,” Mr. Kuleba wrote.

He spoke to Mr. Qin after speaking to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has long sought talks with Mr Xi, whose government is a close ally of Russia. According to reports, a call could take place as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Mr Xi’s Moscow visit was sent “at the invitation of Vladimir Putin,” the Kremlin said on Friday.

Both heads of state will discuss “issues of further development of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,” the Kremlin statement said.

It was said that they would also exchange ideas “in connection with the deepening of Russian-Chinese cooperation at the international level”.

The two heads of government will also sign “important bilateral documents”.

China has declared a “boundless” friendship with Russia and has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while adding that all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity will be respected.

China has offered to broker peace between the two nations while condemning Western sanctions and accusing NATO of provoking Russia.

Beijing offered a 12-point plan for “a political solution to the Ukraine crisis” in February, but it was rejected by Kiev’s allies as favoring Russia.

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