China expects to play a better role in promoting dialogue, peace on Ukraine crisis in second round of shuttle diplomacy
'Better chance for dialogue and peace, but uncertainties still exist'
Published: Mar 03, 2024 09:15 PM
China's Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui (centre right) gives a briefing on his visit to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia in Beijing on June 2, 2023. Photo: AFP

China's Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui (centre right) gives a briefing on his visit to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia in Beijing on June 2, 2023. Photo: AFP

Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui arrived in Moscow on Saturday to begin the second round of shuttle diplomacy on the Ukraine crisis. 

Chinese analysts say China can play a better role in promoting dialogue and peace this time as there is rising global opposition to war, which presents a better chance for peace negotiations and mediation initiatives as the conflict enters its third year. But to reach a peaceful resolution, it will still take time, they said.

Late Saturday Moscow time, Li held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin. In their talks, Li stated that the Ukraine crisis has escalated for two full years. Historical experience shows that any conflict must ultimately be resolved through negotiations. The sharper the contradictions, the more efforts should be made to not give up on dialogue, according to a statement released by Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday. 

China stands ready to continue its efforts to promote peace and dialogue, shuttle among Russia, Ukraine, and relevant parties, build consensus, and push for a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, Li stressed. 

Galuzin also agreed that the Ukraine crisis ultimately needs to be resolved through negotiations and he praised China for playing a unique and constructive role in this regard. He also highly appreciated China's second round of shuttle diplomacy, and said he hoped to continue strengthening communication with China, Chinese Foreign Ministry said in the statement,

"A very engaged and thorough exchange of views took place on the topic of the Ukrainian crisis," the Russian foreign ministry said in the statement posted on its website after Li met with Galuzin.

In the past two years, China has consistently worked toward promoting peace and dialogue, engaging in discussions with Russia, Ukraine, and other involved nations to play a constructive role in coping with the crisis.

As the war enters its third year, it has reached a critical juncture where further escalation is still a possibility. However, each side involved at the same time is facing limitations in terms of resources and efforts that can be put into the conflict, Cui Hongjian, a professor with the Academy of Regional and Global Governance at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

All parties, including Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and the US, are exhausted as the conflict has been going on for two years, and there is a growing anti-war sentiment worldwide. This has created a greater opportunity for peace talks and mediation efforts, Cui Heng, a scholar from the Shanghai-based China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, told the Global Times on the same day.

In this context, Cui Hongjian also believes that China can better play a crucial role in promoting a political solution to the conflict, more than ever.

The significance of China's efforts in promoting peace talks lies in bridging the huge gap in positions between the parties involved. Through China's mediation, consensus can be reached, including on issues such as providing humanitarian aid and preventing the escalation of conflict, Cui Heng noted. 

Due to the high level of mutual trust between China and Russia, China's mediation efforts are more likely to be successful in getting Russia to express its position without reservation, Cui Heng said. He further said that hopefully after Li first met with the Russian Foreign Ministry to understand Russia's position - which is relatively clear and unified - he will convey it to other parties involved. 

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Li and Galuzin shared views on deepening exchanges on China-Russia relations and the Ukraine crisis. 

AS this year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia, as well as the opening year of the China-Russia Cultural Year,they agreed to take the important consensus reached by the two heads of state as the fundamental guideline and promote the continued development of bilateral relations. 

Besides visiting Russia, Li also plans to visit Poland, Ukraine, Germany and France, as well as the EU headquarters in Belgium, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on February 28.

Furthermore, Cui Heng stated that negotiations cannot be a one-time event, but rather must be a continuous process. He highlighted the importance of differentiating between cease-fire negotiations and peace negotiations, as they serve different purposes and require different strategies.

Peace negotiations involve territorial division and political security, which are currently not feasible for discussion, Cui Heng explained. "Though challenges still lie ahead, there is still hope for cease-fire negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, similar to the frozen conflict on the Korean Peninsula."

Cui Hongjian pointed out that there is still a possibility that the conflict can evolve into a larger battlefield. He warns that the continued expansion of NATO and military maneuvers in Russia's neighborhood could escalate tensions further and prolong the conflict. He emphasized that the West needs to reassess its approach to the conflict and understand the gravity of the situation. 

Russian air defense systems destroyed all 38 drones that Ukraine launched at the Crimean Peninsula early on Sunday, Reuters reported quoting Russia's defense ministry as saying, following reports on Ukrainian and Russian social media of powerful explosions in the port of Feodosia.

Cui Heng said the battlefield situation will continue to be a standoff. He explains that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is still in a stalemate, with Russia taking the initiative. But Putin has expressed willingness to negotiate with the US and Ukraine in his State of the Nation Address and in previous interviews with journalists. 

'The Ukrainian side has not yet signaled willingness to negotiate. Spring has arrived, and the land in Ukraine would be very muddy, making it unsuitable for large-scale military operations. 

"In the coming months, neither side is suitable for large-scale actions, but at least until the US election, it is difficult to say that the situation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will change," Cui Heng said. 

Zhang Wanshi also contributed to this story