West reacts with skepticism to Chinese ceasefire proposal for Ukraine
WASHINGTON/TALLINN, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The West reacted with skepticism to China's proposal on Friday - the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine - for a ceasefire, with NATO saying Beijing did not have much credibility as a mediator.
"Any proposal that can advance peace is something that’s worth looking at. We’re taking a look at it," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told U.S. network ABC's "Good Morning America."
"But you know there are 12 points in the Chinese plan. If they were serious about the first one, sovereignty, then this war could end tomorrow," he said.
"China has been trying to have it both ways: It’s on the one hand trying to present itself publicly as neutral and seeking peace, while at the same time it is talking up Russia’s false narrative about the war."
Blinken added that China had been providing nonlethal assistance to Russia through its companies, and reiterated a charge that Beijing was "now contemplating lethal assistance.”
Speaking to reporters in Estonia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Beijing had signed an agreement with Russia only days before its invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
"China doesn't have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine," he said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said China had not shared a peace plan but some principles.
"We will look at the principles, of course, but we will look at them against the backdrop that China has taken sides," she said.
A year to the day - Feb. 24, 2022 - that Russia invaded Ukraine, China called for a comprehensive ceasefire, a proposal Kyiv rejected unless it involved Russia withdrawing its troops.
Beijing urged a gradual de-escalation, warned against use of nuclear weapons and said conflict benefited no one.
It was largely a reiteration of Beijing's line throughout the war, in which it has refrained from condemning Russia or referring to Moscow's intervention as an "invasion" while criticizing Western sanctions. Russia has characterized its war in Ukraine as a "special military operation."
Western countries have warned that any move by China to sell weapons to Russia would have severe consequences.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC he would not confirm a report in the German publication Der Spiegel that said Russia was in talks with a Chinese manufacturer about buying 100 drones.
"To date we have not seen China supply lethal aid to Russia, and we are continuing to make the case for why that would be a terrible mistake for them," he said.
(This story has been refiled to change 'sell weapons to China' to 'sell weapons to Russia' in paragraph 13, and 'Russia' instead of 'Ukraine' in paragraph 15)
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