Zelenskyy and Chinese leader Xi held a telephone conversation for the first time

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke over the phone for a “long and meaningful” period of time on Wednesday, the first time they have been in contact since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, according to Zelensky. The phone discussion, which lasted over an hour, according to an official, represents a significant advance in efforts to settle the dispute. It comes after Xi visited Moscow last month and two months after Beijing, which has traditionally been allied with Russia, declared its intention to serve as a peace mediator in the conflict against Ukraine. 

State media in China reported on the phone call. According to China Central Television, Beijing plans to send a representative to Kiev to talk about “a political settlement” for the war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was reassured by Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday that Beijing would not “feed the fire” of the conflict in Ukraine and maintained that the timing was right to “resolve the crisis politically.”

Analysts and diplomats think the hour-long call could reduce tension between China and the West given Beijing’s fragile posture, which has been generally in favor of Putin. They do, however, issue a warning that this would not alter Xi’s underlying goal of fortifying ties with Russia to stave off American pressure, raising doubts about Beijing’s capacity to mediate a settlement that would satisfy both parties.

Although it is unlikely that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s intention to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus will shift the strategic balance in Europe, it has caused him to break a promise he made to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping only a few days ago.

Image source: Screengrab / NBC News

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