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China appeared to turn its back on its ally Russia after praising Ukraine for peace talks the Kremlin had previously claimed were “doomed to fail.”
Beijing sent its representatives to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to attend a special summit led by Ukraine to find a formula facilitating the end of the war in Eastern Europe.
While the People’s Republic has maintained to be a neutral party and had tried to emerge as a responsible peace broker, China has also raised eyebrows with its increasing closeness with Moscow.
But the bond with the Russians came under question after top Chinese diplomat Li Hui was handed a prominent spot at the table during the summit.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Li “had extensive contact and communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”
READ MORE: Putin embarrassment as China moves away from ‘no limits’ relation with Russia
The Chinese Special Representative on Eurasian Affairs also “listened to all sides’ opinions and proposals, and further consolidated international consensus.”
“All parties positively commented on Li Hui’s attendance, and fully backed China’s positive role in facilitating peace talks,” the statement concluded.
Ukraine hailed China’s participation in the summit after Beijing repeatedly refused to openly condemn Vladimir Putin for launching an invasion.
The PRC has also refused to demand Russia withdraws its troops and has not joined other international government in issuing sanctions against Putin and his oligarchs.
Despite multiple allies praising the summit as a step forward toward peace, Moscow argued that the talks don’t have “the slightest added value” because Moscow — unlike Kyiv — wasn’t invited.
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Without Russia’s participation and without taking into account Moscow’s interests, the meeting was pointless, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.
It repeated previous assurances that Russia is open to a diplomatic solution on its terms that ends the war and is ready to respond to serious proposals.
But Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, ruled out Moscow’s previous demands that would give Russia time to dig in deeper into the parts of Ukraine it has occupied.
He said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Russian forces must fully withdraw from the occupied areas and there would be no Kyiv compromise on that.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Security Service announced Monday it had detained an alleged Russian informant who gathered intelligence about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to the southern Mykolaiv region last month.
It claimed the woman “was collecting data for an airstrike during Zelensky’s visit.”
The woman attempted to establish Zelensky’s route, times and visits in the region. She was detained when she tried to pass the information to the Russians, the statement said, without providing evidence.
Zelensky has been a prime target for the Kremlin since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, when he refused to leave Kyiv as Moscow’s forces approached.
He has been one of Ukraine’s unexpected trump cards in the war, playing a key role in rallying public morale, including a nightly video address, and becoming a recognizable face across the world as he presses allies and others to help Ukraine.
Also Monday, Russian shelling struck a nine-story residential building in the city of Kherson, killing one person and wounding four others, according to regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin.
He said Kherson had endured a “tough night” as the Russians “covered the central part of the city with fire.”
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