Senior U.S. and European officials see Beijing as a possible mediator between Russia and Ukraine if Kyiv’s upcoming counterattack creates an opportunity for peace talks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The planned counteroffensive could turn the tide of the war, although senior Ukrainian leaders have begun to worry that the campaign to force Russia out of occupied regions may not live up to Western expectations, The Washington Post reported, citing conversations from the previous week. However, it could be enough to persuade China to put its relationship with Russia to the test and bring both sides to the negotiating table, particularly as the warring countries understand they cannot carry on fighting indefinitely, officials said, according to the WSJ.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously expressed doubt over China’s trustworthiness as intermediary given its closeness to Russia, the WSJ reported. In February, Western governments largely discounted China’s proposed peace plan for the Russia-Ukraine war, which blamed Western governments for fomenting the conflict, amid simultaneous statements of concern that China was considering providing lethal assistance to Russia.
“There is a role for the PRC and other countries in supporting diplomatically an outcome consistent with the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. No one wants this war to end more than Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone call with Zelenskyy in April for the first time since the war began, but officials briefed on the call said they were not reassured that China would consider Ukraine’s demands fairly. (RELATED: Video Shows Smoke Over Kremlin After Alleged Putin Assassination Attempt, Russia Vows ‘Retaliatory Measures’)
The U.S., United Kingdom and some European governments have reiterated their intentions to support Ukraine for as long as it takes to push Russia’s army out of Ukraine fully, according to the WSJ. They say that while the war will end through negotiation, it cannot come unless Russia approaches talks in good faith.
“Unfortunately, we see no signs that Russia is preparing to stop its attacks on the Ukrainian people. That’s why we are committed to continuing to help Ukraine protect its people against Russian aggression,” Adam Hodge, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the WSJ.
However, leaders from many European countries, including France, have more openly pressured Ukraine to seek a negotiating route, the WSJ reported.
Senior French and German officials said they expect the White House to push for peace talks at the end of the coming counteroffensive after Ukraine has accomplished what could be seen as a significant victory, such as regaining some important territory in the south, according to the WSJ. That would leave Russia in control of other occupied regions, such as the Donbas.
Senior European officials have expressed concern about the rate of Ukrainian losses in troops and materiel, according to the WSJ. In addition, the U.S. and allied governments are assessing whether they can sustain the level of military support provided to facilitate the coming counteroffensive for successive campaigns.
“Our goal is to make sure that Ukraine can defend itself against further attacks from Russia this spring,” the State Department told the DCNF.
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