Ukraine’s finance minister on Friday said Kyiv should use its bilateral relationship with China as leverage to bring an end to Russia’s full-scale invasion.
His comments came shortly after a long-anticipated phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both leaders spoke earlier this week for the first time since Russia’s war with Ukraine began in February last year.
“I am not fully convinced that we can emphasize something particular after this conversation but what I truly can tell you is that it is important to continue dialogue between our countries,” Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We really understand the importance of China and we really understand the importance for us to create our own relationship with China and to prevent China [from fully supporting] Russia.”
When asked whether China could be seen as Ukraine’s best friend in the bid to find a compromise for peace, Marchenko replied, “of course not,” instead naming the United States, the Group of Seven nations and “all our partners” supporting Ukraine.
He added that Kyiv “should use China as leverage to win this war,” saying the country must use every opportunity “to convince Russia to stop this bloody war in Ukraine.”
China said Wednesday that it would send special representatives to Ukraine and hold talks with all parties in an attempt to bring an end to the conflict. The intervention follows months of apparent reluctance to engage with Kyiv on the same level as Moscow.
Chinese state media said Xi told his Ukrainian counterpart on the call that Beijing would focus on promoting peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Zelenskyy, meanwhile, said via Twitter that the “long and meaningful” discussion could help to “give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations.”
The timing of the call — and China’s decision to send emissaries to Ukraine — has raised eyebrows among political and defense analysts, particularly as Ukraine is thought to be preparing to launch a large-scale counteroffensive against Russian forces in a bid to retake territory in the east and south.
— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.