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Ukraine says China should press Russia to end war

Ukrainian officials are urging China to use its influence to end the Ukraine war as Chinese leader Xi Jinping visits Russian President Vladimir Putin.

March 21, 2023
21 March 2023

Ukraine expects China to use its influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko says.

“Ukraine is following the Chinese president’s visit to Russia closely,” Nikolenko said in a statement to Reuters shortly after Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We expect Beijing to use its influence on Moscow to make it put an end to the aggressive war against Ukraine.”

Putin warmly welcomed Xi to the Kremlin on Monday, the first of a three-day state visit.

At the beginning of their meeting Putin gave a brief statement saying Russia was open to negotiations about Ukraine. 

He said Russia had familiarised itself with China’s peace proposals and was ready to discuss them.

The Kremlin said the talks were still continuing after almost four hours, Russian news agencies reported.

“The conversation is still going on,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the RIA news agency.

Ukraine says any peace moves must involve a full withdrawal of Russian troops and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“We stand ready to engage in a closer dialogue with China in order to restore peace in Ukraine in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and the latest UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) resolution on this matter,” Nikolenko said.

Xi will be the first leader to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him on Friday over the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s top investigative body said on Monday it had opened a criminal case against the ICC prosecutor and judges who issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges.

The move was a symbolic gesture of defiance, three days after the ICC accused Putin and his children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.

The state Investigative Committee said there were no grounds for criminal liability on Putin’s part, and heads of state enjoyed absolute immunity under a 1973 UN convention.

The ICC prosecutor’s actions showed signs of being crimes under Russian law, the committee said, including knowingly accusing an innocent person of a crime.

The prosecutor and judges were also suspected of “preparing an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection, in order to complicate international relations”.

The Kremlin has called the issuing of the warrant outrageous but legally void, as Russia is not a signatory to the treaty that created the ICC. 

On Monday it said the court’s move was a sign of the “clear hostility” that exists against Russia and against Putin personally.

The ICC officials targeted in the Russian investigation are prosecutor Karim Khan and judges Tomoko Akane, Rosario Salvatore Aitala and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez.

“The criminal prosecution is obviously illegal, since there are no grounds for criminal liability,” the Russian statement said.

The ICC’s move obliges the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.

Putin is unlikely to take that risk and Russia does not extradite its citizens but the rare move against a serving president was an important symbolic step to pin responsibility on him for the consequences of his invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine says more than 16,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia or Russian-occupied territories since the war started nearly 13 months ago.

Russia has publicly said it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia in what it presents as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the conflict zone.

with AP and DPA

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