China, a close ally of Russia, on Thursday reacted guardedly to President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, calling on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent the situation from getting out of control.
In a televised address, Putin said Russia’s move to launch a military operation in Ukraine came in response to threats emanating from the neighbouring country. He also warned other countries that if they attempted to interfere with the Russian military operation they would see “consequences they have never seen”.
Responding to questions on Putin’s order to send troops to the Donbas region and whether Beijing considers it an invasion and violation of the UN Charter, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, I would like to say that China is closely following the situation in Ukraine. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent the situation from getting out of control, she told a media briefing here.
To a question on whether Putin’s move violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, she said, This issue has complex historical background and merits. What we say is the interplay of complex factors. Earlier at the United Nations, China called on all parties involved in the Ukrainian issue to exercise restraint and avoid taking any action that may aggravate tensions.
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“In the current context, all parties concerned should exercise restraint, and avoid taking any action that may aggravate tensions,” Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the plenary meeting of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. However, it is not clear whether Zhang made the statement after Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine, claiming it’s intended to protect civilians.
Putin on Monday signed two decrees recognising “the Lugansk People’s Republic” and “the Donetsk People’s Republic” as independent and sovereign states. China has remained silent on the announcement. “China has been paying attention to the evolving situation in Ukraine. China’s position on safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states has been consistent. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be jointly upheld,” Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying at the UNGA meeting in New York.
Zhang pointed out that at the same time, “we note that the issue of Ukraine is rooted in a complex web of historical and present factors. An interplay of those factors has driven the situation to this point. In the current context, all parties concerned should exercise restraint, and avoid taking any action that may aggravate tensions”. China calls on all parties to recognise the importance of implementing the principle of indivisible security, to continue to engage in dialogue and consultation, and to seek reasonable solutions that address each other’s concerns through peaceful means on the basis of equality and mutual respect, the ambassador said.
“We welcome and encourage all efforts aimed at facilitating a diplomatic solution,” Zhang said. China on Wednesday had also urged all parties to stay calm and find a solution to the Ukraine issue through negotiations.
“Under the current circumstances, the door to a peaceful solution of the Ukraine issue has not been completely closed,” Hua had told a media briefing in Beijing. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the Russian side has repeatedly stated that it has no intention of waging war against Ukraine and stands ready to hold dialogues with relevant parties on Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
Hua said China hopes relevant parties remain calm and rational, and commit themselves to peacefully resolving relevant issues through negotiation in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China will continue to promote peace talks in its own way, and it welcomes and encourages all efforts that would contribute to a diplomatic settlement, she said.
“The United States must not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and other countries when dealing with the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia,” Hua said. Responding to a query on the recently announced America’s sanctions against Moscow for its actions toward Ukraine, she denounced the US move, saying, “Sanctions are never fundamentally effective means to solve problems, and China always opposes all illegal unilateral sanctions.” .