Tell Russia its war in Ukraine is 'at a dead end', France urges China

Chinese foreign minister meeting western diplomats on five-day trip to Europe

Heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine has produced few major gains for either side in recent weeks. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

China should try to persuade Russia that its military campaign in Ukraine is “at a dead end”, France’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said any Chinese military aid to Russia would call into question Europe’s cautious stance on Beijing.

Ms Colonna was to hold talks with her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang later on Wednesday.

Mr Qin is on a five-day trip to Europe at a time when EU leaders are laying out a policy of reducing trade dependencies on China.

The foreign ministers of Germany and France, who were holding separate talks with Mr Qin this week, both spoke of “de-risking” but not “de-coupling” relations with China.

Meeting at the Elysee Palace, the German and French ministers sought to portray a united front on China after comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that called the European line into doubt.

Ms Colonna said France would “talk very openly and honestly with China”, which has positioned itself as a mediator in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“Relations with Russia should be used to make it understand it is at a dead end, to bring it back to its senses,” Ms Colonna said.

Any Chinese talks with Moscow should foster a “new attitude of returning to peace, instead of continuing an unprovoked war that Russia chose”, she said.

She said Mr Macron had communicated the same message to China’s President Xi Jinping at a meeting last month.

France is also asking China to “abstain from any weapons deliveries to Russia” because this would “call into question the attitude that we have” towards Beijing, Ms Colonna said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no sign of backing down from the war in Ukraine in a speech during Tuesday’s Victory Day parade in Moscow, commemorating the Soviet victory in the Second World War.

China called for a ceasefire and negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv in a 12-point peace plan released to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion in February last year.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said it was “in the interests of the whole world” for the war in Ukraine to end.

“It is our clear message to China that this Russian war of aggression is not only an attack on Ukraine and the European peace order, but has catastrophic consequences for the whole world,” she said.

She said China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, like France, had a “special responsibility to ensure world peace”.

Updated: May 10, 2023, 11:40 AM