Xi holds first talks with Zelensky since Russia's invasion of Ukraine - GulfToday

Xi holds first talks with Zelensky since Russia's invasion of Ukraine


This combo shows Volodymyr Zelensky (left) and Xi Jinping. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky by telephone on Wednesday for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, fulfilling a longstanding goal of Kyiv which had publicly sought such talks for months.

Zelensky immediately signalled the importance of the chance to open closer relations with Russia's most powerful friend, naming a former cabinet minister as Ukraine's new ambassador to Beijing.


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Describing the phone call as "long and meaningful", Zelensky tweeted: "I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations."

Xi told Zelensky that China would send special representatives to Ukraine and hold talks with all parties seeking peace, Chinese state media reported.

Firefighters work at a site of a building damaged by a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on Thursday. Reuters

Xi, the most powerful world leader to have refrained from denouncing Russia's invasion, made a state visit to Moscow last month. Since February, he has promoted a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine, greeted sceptically by the West but cautiously welcomed by Kyiv as a sign of Chinese interest in ending the war.

Earlier, Russian forces pounded the city of Bakhmut, the months-old focal point of their attempts to capture the eastern Ukrainian industrial region of Donbas, and the head of Russia's Wagner mercenary force said Ukrainian troops were pouring in ahead of an "inevitable" counter-offensive.

The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces, in a report on Facebook, said fighting gripped Bakhmut and nearby areas. It said Russian forces had failed to advance on two villages to the northwest. At least a dozen localities came under Russian fire.

Separately, Serhiy Cherevatiy, spokesman for Ukraine's eastern group of forces, told national television on Wednesday that in the past 24 hours, Russian forces had attacked 324 times using artillery and multiple rocket launchers.

An elderly woman stands in her backyard after shelling in Chasiv Yar, near Bakhmut, Ukraine. AFP

"The Russians are destroying buildings in Bakhmut to prevent our soldiers from using them as fortifications," Cherevatiy said.

Cherevatiy on Tuesday said there had been a record number of attacks on a section of the front further north - near the city of Kupiansk, in northeastern Ukraine.

The governor of the southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv said Russian missiles had hit an apartment building and a private house in the city of the same name.

One person was killed and 15 were injured, Vitaliy Kim wrote on the Telegram messaging app.




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