US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has called on China to press Russia towards a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. Beijing has already pushed back on the American position by acknowledging Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns.”
The move comes amid a flurry of diplomacy around the situation in Eastern Europe.
“We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either,” Nuland said at a State Department news conference on Thursday. “There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere.”
Just one day earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to request his aid countering what the American official called “Russian aggression” toward Ukraine. According to Chinese state media, Wang instead urged Blinken to cease “interference” in China’s affairs and to respect Moscow’s “legitimate security concerns.”
Russia’s concerns include securing a promise from the US and NATO to refrain from expanding the alliance further toward its borders, as well as reducing the number of NATO missiles in the region.
Moscow sent these proposals in writing to NATO and the Biden administration last month, and Blinken met last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The US and NATO have thus far refused to compromise on the issue of Ukraine’s potential membership.
Speaking on Wednesday after receiving both the US and NATO’s responses to the Russian proposals, Lavrov said Washington’s response left room for negotiation on several “secondary” issues, while NATO’s reply was “embarrassing” and “ideological,” and portrayed “such a sense of exceptionalism of the North Atlantic Alliance, its special mission, its special purpose, that I even felt a little embarrassed for those who wrote it.”
With Washington warning of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lavrov stated that “If it is up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war.” However, he added that Moscow “will not allow our interests to be brutally attacked or to be ignored either.”
While the US and some of its NATO allies have recently stepped up arms shipments to Ukraine, a deployment of troops to the country remains off the cards for the time being.