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Xi says China is willing to play role in mediating Ukraine crisis, in call with European leaders

<i>ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are close allies
Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are close allies

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

President Xi Jinping said Tuesday that China is willing to “work actively” with the international community to mediate the war in Ukraine, but did not offer details and reiterated his opposition to Western sanctions against Russia.

During a virtual call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, Xi said the situation in Ukraine was “worrisome” and China was “deeply grieved by the outbreak of war again on the European continent,” according to a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry.

“China will stay in communication and coordination with France, Germany and the EU and, in light of the needs of the parties involved, work actively together with the international community,” the statement said, adding that all efforts “conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported.”

According to China’s Foreign Ministry, Scholz and Macron said their two countries are ready to strengthen communication and coordination with Beijing to promote peace talks.

China and Russia share a strategic interest in challenging the West, but the invasion of Ukraine has put their friendship to the test.

China has not directly condemned Russia’s attack or imposed sanctions on Moscow — but it also has not rushed to help Russia after its economy was hit by sanctions from all over the world, with experts saying Beijing’s options are limited. Analysts say Chinese banks and companies also fear secondary sanctions if they deal with Russian counterparts.

Beijing has consistently refused to call the war in Ukraine a Russian invasion, and Chinese officials regularly point to NATO’s eastward expansion as a root cause of the conflict — parroting a key Russian talking point.

Xi emphasized the need to support peace talks and encouraged the two sides to “keep the talks going and bring about peaceful outcomes,” according to Tuesday’s statement.

Again, China called for parties to exercise “maximum restraint” to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis and said it stands ready to provide Ukraine with further humanitarian aid supplies. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said last week that the Chinese are “ready to seek a peaceful solution” in diplomatic talks to end the war.

Xi once again condemned Western sanctions during Tuesday’s call, warning they will “dampen the global economy that is already ravaged by the pandemic.”

“This is in the interest of no one. We need to actively advocate a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security,” Xi said, according to the statement.

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