UPDATED: China’s top diplomat due in Moscow for talks on Ukraine

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  • Wang due in Moscow
  • China preparing Ukraine settlement proposal
  • Blinken warns China
  • Wang scolds “hysterical” United States

By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW, Feb 20 (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, is due in Moscow shortly for talks on a possible peace settlement for Ukraine, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter said.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper earlier reported that Wang had arrived. China’s foreign ministry declined immediate comment as did Russia’s foreign ministry.

Wang said last week that Beijing would put forward “China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis”, and that Beijing remained on the side of peace and security, China said.

When Putin and Xi Jinping met face to face just before the Ukraine conflict began, the two leaders sealed a “no limits” partnership between China and Russia that triggered anxiety in the West.

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered one of the deadliest European conflicts since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

China has refrained from condemning Russia’s operation against Ukraine or calling it an “invasion” in line with the Kremlin which casts the war as “a special military operation”.

China’s parliament chief told his Russian counterpart last year that Russian action against Ukraine is a legitimate response to U.S. provocation.

After the West imposed on Moscow the most severe sanctions in modern history due to the war in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said Russia is turning towards Asia after centuries of looking to the West as the crucible of economic growth, technology and war.

At the annual Munich Security Conference, Wang accused the United States of violating international norms with “hysterical” behaviour.

Wang reiterated a call for dialogue and suggested European countries “think calmly” about how to end the war.

Wang also said there were “some forces that seemingly don’t want negotiations to succeed, or for the war to end soon”, without specifying to whom he was referring.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned Wang of consequences should China provide material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, adding that Washington was concerned Beijing was considering supplying weapons to Moscow.

China’s Xi will deliver a “peace speech” on the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, Italy’s foreign minister said on Friday.

A file photo of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) speaks with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R), during their bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 07 July 2022. EPA-EFE/RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE

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