‘Common understandings’ between China and Brazil embody positive energy of political settlement of Ukraine crisis
Published: May 25, 2024 09:22 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

 The Russia-Ukraine conflict has been ongoing for two years and three months, leading to huge losses and casualties to both sides of the conflict, forcing European society to face multiple crises such as energy shortages, high inflation, refugee influx, and disruptions in the industrial supply chain, with spillover effects on international politics, economy, and security. 

Despite the actions taken by Western powers to "resolve the Ukraine crisis," the results have been minimal, and even counterproductive. This is because the Western camp did not fully consider Russia's interests in European security. Through the eastward expansion of NATO and military aid to Ukraine, anti-Russia has become the main theme of Western diplomacy of "political correctness" and "moral condemnation." It not only serves to further exacerbate tensions between the West and Russia, but also offers no real help in alleviating the Ukraine crisis.

The Chinese government has always advocated for a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis based on the principles of fairness and justice, hoping to play a constructive role in promoting dialogue through the cessation of conflict. The various international conferences on the Ukraine issue hosted by the West in the past year have failed to reflect the voice of the international community. These Western-led conferences have a political bias in favor of pressuring Russia and supporting Ukraine, which has been mocked by Russian officials as a "freak show." Without the equal participation of Russia and the vast majority of neutral countries in the international community, such "peace conferences" on Ukraine will not solve the problem and will not convey the positive energy of fairness and justice to the international community.

The Chinese government and the Brazilian government jointly released the"Common Understandings Between China and Brazil on Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis"on Thursday. As the two largest emerging economies in the world, the "common understandings" take into account the core interests of both Russia and Ukraine and the major concerns of European countries, and has the following significant features.

First, the "common understandings " fully embody timeliness and practicality. Given the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict, fierce battles erupting in Kharkiv, and frequent attacks on Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia power plant, China and Brazil believe that the contradictions between Russia and Ukraine are significant and difficult to negotiate on basic principles, and that the conditions for negotiations are not mature. Therefore, they have proposed the "three principles for deescalating the situation" for the Russia-Ukraine conflict, namely no expansion of the battlefield, no escalation of fighting, and no provocation by any party. This proposal is far more practical than the Western advocacy for international conferences on the Ukraine issue, reflecting a genuine willingness to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

In recent years, the US and Europe have continued to fuel the Russia-Ukraine conflict, viewing Ukraine as a strategic pawn to contain Russia. Only recently the US government passed a $60 billion aid bill to Ukraine, while the EU passed a four-year, 500-billion-euro additional aid bill to Ukraine. On Tuesday, the European Union gave official approval for the use of proceeds from frozen assets of the Russian central bank to beef up the defense of Ukraine (210 billion euro). These actions not only continue to embroil Ukraine in a fierce conflict, at the cost of the lives of the Ukrainian people, but also seriously infringe on Russia's national interests, causing strong dissatisfaction. In this anti-Russia atmosphere, it is not surprising that Russia is not participating in negotiations.

Second, these "common understandings" broadly consolidates representativeness and universality. Both China and Brazil emphasize that dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis, and they believe that only an international peace conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine is feasible. For this purpose, the governments of China and Brazil have actively engaged in shuttle diplomacy and special envoy diplomacy, continuously consolidating broad common understandings within the international community. 

Chinese officials have frequently communicated and negotiated with all sides in the conflict, and the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs conducted the third round of shuttle diplomacy, exchanging views in-depth with developing countries on the Ukraine crisis. This stands in stark contrast to the Western-led and biased international conferences.

Third, the "common understandings" emphasize fairness and equity. Consistent with China's previous positions on the political resolution of the Ukraine crisis, the "common understandings" advocates for increasing humanitarian assistance to relevant regions and preventing a humanitarian crisis on a larger scale, preventing nuclear proliferation and avoiding nuclear crisis, opposing to dividing the world into isolated political or economic groups, and protecting the stability of global industrial and supply chains. 

The "common understandings" aim to create the "greatest common denominator" for a ceasefire and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, without any selfish motives, reflecting a political stance of fairness, justice, and non-alignment.

Fourth, the "common understandings" explicitly advocate for openness and inclusiveness. They are aimed at the world, reflecting the responsibility and magnanimity of responsible major powers, and highlighting the necessity of using multilateralism to solve global issues. China and Brazil represent the Global South countries and developing countries globally, and the consensus they have formed is open and inclusive, openly welcoming the participation of all members of the international community, regardless of political system and level of development, in efforts to peacefully resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The viewpoints promoted by Western countries on the Russia-Ukraine conflict do not represent the majority of countries. 

The various international conferences on the Ukraine crisis hosted by the West are still exclusive and exclusionary groups, excluding Russia from participation, only discussing unilateral Ukrainian proposals, and inviting representatives from the Global South countries merely as a formality, which cannot fundamentally solve the problem and will only exacerbate the Ukraine crisis, making European security difficult to guarantee. Many countries are watching to see if the upcoming Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland can avoid repeating the mistakes of previous Western-led conferences, but it seems that the prospects are not promising.

In dealing with the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other major international affairs, the US government is increasingly emphasizing the use of "minilateralism" to counter multilateralism. Multilateralism is based on the international community and international organizations, giving more consideration to the interests of developing countries, and is a form of open and inclusive international cooperation. "Minilateralism," on the other hand, reflects the interests and alliances of a few countries, forming exclusive interest groups that threaten the interests of the majority of countries. The military alliance created by the US to contain China's rise, AUKUS, as well as the QUAD between the US, Japan, India, and Australia, both have the characteristics of this kind of "minilateralism." 

Given the complexity of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the prevalence of Western groups fueling the conflict and "minilateralism," the international community needs stability and security. The "common understandings" are the first multilateral document issued by two major emerging economies, spreading positive energy and reflecting the universal desire and sincerity of the international community to resolve the Ukraine crisis. It is believed that such common understandings will receive support from the vast majority of developing countries.

The author is a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn