Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, has continued to seek out an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, arguing that China has the political and economic influence necessary to “put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place.”
In an exclusive 40-minute interview with South China Morning Post, the Ukraine leader urged the world’s second largest economy to use its influence over Russia as well as in the United Nations Security Council to bring its current conflict to an end.
“[China is] a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy… So [it] can politically influence Russia. And China is [also a] permanent member of the U.N. security council,” said Zelenskyy.
He urged the communist country to “show” countries that they need to comply with international norms.
“I would like to talk directly. I had one conversation with [President] Xi Jinping that was a year ago,” he continued. “Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression on February 24, we have asked officially for a conversation, but we [haven’t had] any conversation with China even though I believe that would be helpful.”
According to an Aug. 1 record by the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 5,327 people have been killed and 7,257 have been injured since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
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China is also Ukraine’s top trading partner, with a trade turnover worth nearly $19 billion in 2021 alone.
Zelenskyy added that he always wanted “the relationship between Ukraine and China to be reinforced and to be developed every year.”
While China has sought to maintain a “balanced” attitude toward the war, Zelenskyy argued that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked.
“The Russians are the invaders… this is a war on our territory, they came to invade. China, as a big and powerful country, could come down and sort of put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place,” he said. “Of course, I would really like China to review its attitude towards the Russian Federation.”
More than 30 nations in addition to China have chosen to remain neutral, including India, Vietnam and South Africa.
China has pledged $2.37 million in humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, baby formula and sleeping bags. Meanwhile, U.S. President Biden has sent $8.8 billion in security assistance since the beginning of his time in office. Chinese state media previously reported that Beijing is “doing its best” by “making unremitting efforts to defuse tensions and working actively to promote dialogue.”
Unlike the U.S. and other Western nations implementing sanctions and a more aggressive approach to Russia, China has maintained that successful mediation must come from diplomacy rather than by force or threats of punishment.