Blinken criticises China at UN after Beijing unveils Ukraine peace plan

UN Security Council meets on anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Members of the Security Council rise for a moment of silence during a meeting on the war in Ukraine at UN headquarters. AFP
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticised China at the UN on Friday after Beijing unveiled a peace plan for Ukraine.

On the same day as the anniversary of Russia's invasion, China unveiled a 12-point proposal for a ceasefire between Kyiv and Moscow.

But Mr Blinken pointed to the close ties between the two countries, which China has said have “no limits”.

“No member of this council should call for peace while supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine and on the UN Charter,” Mr Blinken told the 15-member Security Council.

The Chinese proposal comes as the US and Nato have voiced concerns that Beijing could be planning to supply Russia with weapons to prop up its war effort. China has denied the claims.

US outlets have reported that China is considering delivering artillery and drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, though the White House said no deliveries have occurred.

When asked by reporters at the White House on Friday evening, US President Joe Biden said there was "no evidence of that so far" of China providing military support to Russia.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told reporters that China’s proposal is “not a peace plan”.

“It is a position paper … where China has put together all their positions expressed since the beginning,” Mr Borrell said.

Still, he said the proposal had “interesting considerations” about the use of nuclear arms, the exchange of prisoners and the Black Sea grain initiative, but for it to be “credible”, he said Chinese officials should visit Kyiv.

Dai Bing, China's deputy ambassador to the UN, said Beijing had “always taken an objective and impartial stance based on the merits of the issue” and that it was ready to play a “responsible role” in resolving the conflict.

The Chinese proposal came a day after 141 of the UN's members passed a resolution demanding that Russia exit Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said any new peace proposals should be aligned with the demands made in that resolution.

“We invite all countries from every corner of the world to facilitate implementation of the resolution and peace formula,” he said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had also voiced initial support for aspects of the China proposal, saying on Thursday that the fact that Beijing had started talking about peace in Ukraine "is not bad."

The resolution underscored the urgent need to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict that is consistent with the UN Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and the territorial integrity of states.

The UAE's ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, stressed that it was time to invest in "inclusive and imaginative diplomacy", reinforcing Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s role as a "mediator with consistent, robust and determined backing".

"We are under no illusions that this effort will be easy — too much blood has been spilt, too much damage has been done," Ms Nusseibeh said.

The post-war vision, noted the UAE ambassador, must also "incentivise Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table, not to the battlefield".

"But all of us should dread, with equal certainty, what looms in the wake of its failure," she said.

Mr Guterres, who on Friday called Russia's invasion a “living hell” for the people of Ukraine, said almost 40 per cent of the Ukrainian population needs humanitarian assistance and protection, while 30 per cent of the jobs in the country have been wiped out.

More than eight million Ukrainians have fled to other parts of Europe, in addition to another 5.4 million who have been internally displaced — “a displacement crisis not seen in Europe in decades”, he said.

Russia's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya told the Security Council that Friday's meeting marked “the last day of a week which was anything but simple and it will be remembered … for the information hullabaloo”.

He said that if Russia were to stop hostilities, Ukraine would “continue discrimination against the Russian-speaking people” and repeated claims that Kyiv is run by “Nazi criminals”.

Updated: February 25, 2023, 12:57 AM