Li Hui, who is fluent in Russian, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Ukraine since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
A senior Chinese envoy is beginning a tour of Europe that will take him first to Ukraine and eventually to Russia, on a trip that Beijing says is aimed at discussing a “political settlement” to the Ukraine crisis.
Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs since 2019 and a former ambassador to Russia, will also visit Poland, France and Germany on the multi-day trip, the Foreign Ministry announced last week, “for in-depth communications with different parties to a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine”.
Fluent in Russian, Li is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Ukraine since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022, and his trip could coincide with the start of a long-anticipated counter-offensive by Ukraine to recover the seized and occupied territory. by Russia
The visit comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone call late last month with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the first known wartime call between the two leaders.
Zelenskyy described the hour-long call as “long and meaningful,” while Xi said China’s “core position is to promote peace through talks.”
On the first anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Russia, China released a 12-point peace proposal: China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis – that was met with some skepticism in Western capitals due to Beijing’s ties to Russia. He urged “both sides” to agree to a gradual de-escalation and abandon the “Cold War mentality”.
Beijing has not explicitly condemned Moscow for the invasion, which came less than three weeks after the two countries committed to a “no limits” partnership. In March, Xi traveled to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin as the two men signed an agreement to bring relations between their two countries to a “new era“.
Li has spent his entire diplomatic career dealing with the Soviet Union, Russia and the states that emerged after their fall since joining the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Soviet and Eastern European Affairs in 1975.
Since Xi-Zelenskyy’s call, several European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have traveled to Beijing and urged China to play a more active role in restricting actions. from Moscow.
kyiv has dismissed the idea of any territorial concessions to Russia and has said it wants every inch of its land back. Russia invaded and then annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, a move widely condemned at that time, and in September of last year, it announced that it had annexed another four regions of eastern Ukraine.