WASHINGTON—White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has voiced concerns about Beijing’s growing ties with Moscow and involvement in the Russia–Ukraine conflict, doubting that the Chinese peace plan would work.
“We want them to make the right choice not to make it easier for Putin to kill Ukrainians,” Kirby told The Epoch Times. “They’re going to have to make these choices. And we don’t think it’s in their interest to come in on the side of Russia wholeheartedly and inside this war.”
On the Chinese peace plan, Kirby said that “it’s difficult to see how this could represent a sustainable option here when there have been no discussions between the Chinese and Ukrainians.”
Beijing issued a paper titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” on Feb. 24 in an effort to portray itself as a mediator in the year-old war. Beijing referred to the paper as a “peace plan,” although it fell short on details.
The paper called for “respecting the sovereignty of all countries” and stated that “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld.”
Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that territorial integrity, which the paper championed, would demand that Russia leave Ukraine.
“Territorial integrity implies the withdrawal of Russian troops. If it’s not there, that means it’s not OK with us,” he told reporters.
Zelenskyy also said he’d like to meet with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing’s proposal. “I believe that it will benefit our countries and the security of the world,” he said.
The paper also urged “abandoning the Cold War mentality,” a phrase frequently used by Chinese officials to criticize the United States and its allies, as well as “stopping unilateral sanctions” against Russia.
On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv and held meetings in Poland on Feb. 20, reaffirming his commitment to Ukraine. That same week, Russia and China held high-level meetings in Moscow, where both sides agreed to strengthen ties.
The White House recently stated that Beijing was considering sending lethal military aid to Russia.
“We have not seen the Chinese make a decision to move in that direction,” Kirby said during a press conference on Monday, adding that if China chooses to provide military assistance to Russia, there will be ramifications.
CIA Director Bill Burns also confirmed the possibility of China sending lethal assistance to Russia in a Feb. 25 interview with CBS News.
On Feb. 24, the Biden administration announced new sanctions against Russia and its allies. The measures include increased tariffs and export controls on key Russian sectors, as well as export controls against Chinese entities known to have assisted Russia’s war machine.
Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times