Japanese PM offers support to Ukraine as Chinese Xi backs Russia
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Prime Minister Fumio Kishida paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, engaging in a diplomatic duel with rival Asian President Xi Jinping of China, who met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to promote the Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine that Western nations have all but dismissed as a non-starter.
The two visits, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) apart, highlighted how the countries are lining up behind Moscow or kyiv during the nearly 13-month war. Kishida, who will chair the Group of Seven summit in May, became the latest member of the group to travel to Ukraine and meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after paying tribute to those killed in Bucha, a town that has become a symbol of atrocities Russians against civilians.
Xi and Putin have not announced any major progress in implementing the Chinese peace deal, although the Russian leader said it could be a basis for ending the fighting when the West is ready. He added that kyiv’s Western allies had shown no interest in this.
US officials have said any peace plan that comes out of the Putin-Xi meeting would be unacceptable because a ceasefire would only ratify Moscow’s territorial conquests and give Russia time to plan a new offensive.
It seems the West does indeed intend to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, Putin said, adding that the latest threat is a British plan to give Ukraine tank cartridges containing uranium impoverished.
If that happens, Russia will react accordingly, as the Western collective begins to use weapons with nuclear components, he said, without giving further details. Putin sometimes warned that Russia would use all available means, possibly including nuclear weapons, to defend itself, but also sometimes backed down from such threats.
Putin’s comment referred to Monday’s remarks by junior British defense minister Annabel Goldie, who wrote: Alongside our granting a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will provide ammunition , including armor-piercing shells containing depleted uranium. These cartridges are very effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the plan shows the British have lost their bearings, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said it marks another step, and that it will not so much left.
But weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of the British Royal Tank Regiment, said it was unwise of Putin to try to suggest Britain was sending nuclear material to Ukraine. He said depleted uranium is a common component of tank cartridges, possibly even used by Russia.
Putin insinuating that it is some kind of nuclear weapon is crazy, he told The Associated Press. Depleted uranium is completely inert. It is impossible to create a nuclear reaction or a nuclear explosion with depleted uranium.
Beijing insists it is a neutral broker in Ukraine, and Xi said after his talks with Putin: We adhere to a principled and objective position on the Ukraine crisis based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of Nations. United. The Chinese plan aims to actively encourage peace and the resumption of talks, he said.
In a joint statement, Russia and China stressed the need to respect the legitimate security concerns of all countries to resolve the conflict, echoing Moscow’s argument that it sent troops to prevent the US United and its NATO allies to turn the country into an anti-Russian bulwark. .
Russia welcomes China’s willingness to play a positive role in the political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and the constructive ideas contained in the Beijing peace plan, the statement said. He added: The parties emphasize that responsible dialogue offers the best path to a lasting settlement…and the international community should support constructive efforts in this regard.
After meeting Kishida, Zelenskyy told reporters that his team had sent their own peace formula to China but had received no response, adding that there were signals but nothing concrete about the possibility of a dialogue.
Kishida called Russia’s invasion a disgrace that undermines the foundations of the international legal order and pledged to continue supporting Ukraine until peace returns to beautiful Ukrainian lands.
Hours before Xi and Putin are due to dine at a state dinner in the glittering opulence of the Kremlin, Kishida laid flowers at a church in Bucha for the city’s victims.
During this visit to Bucha, I feel a strong resentment against the cruelty, he says. I would like to represent the Japanese people and express my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones, were injured as a result of this cruel act.
US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel noted the two very different Europe-Pacific partnerships that unfolded on Tuesday.
Kishida defends freedom and Xi supports a war criminal, Emanuel tweeted, referring to the International Criminal Court’s decision on Friday to issue an arrest warrant for Putin, saying it wanted to bring him to justice for the abduction of thousands of children from Ukraine. .
Kyiv’s allies have pledged more support. Washington speeds up delivery of Abrams tanks in Ukraine, sending a refurbished older version that can be ready faster, the Pentagon said. The goal is to bring the 70-ton juggernauts into the war zone by fall.
The Russian-Chinese front against the West was an important theme of Xi’s visit. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused NATO of seeking to become the dominant military force in the world. That is why we are expanding our cooperation with China, including in the field of security, he said.
Putin is keen to show that he has a strong ally and a market for Russian energy products under Western sanctions. He and Xi signed economic cooperation agreements, noting that Russian-Chinese trade rose 30 percent last year to $185 billion and is expected to surpass $200 billion this year.
Russia is ready to meet the growing demand for energy resources from the Chinese economy by increasing oil and gas deliveries, he said, while listing other areas of cooperation, including the industries of aircraft and shipbuilding and other high-tech sectors.
Whether China will provide military support is a key question. Western officials have seen signs that Putin also wants lethal weapons from Beijing, although there is no evidence that he has granted his request, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told Brussels.
Further contacts are planned. Xi said he invited Putin to China this year to discuss a regional initiative to expand Beijing’s influence through economic cooperation.
Both Moscow and Beijing have resisted international condemnation of their human rights record. The Chinese government is accused of atrocities against Uyghur Muslims in its far western region of Xinjiang. The allegations include genocide, forced sterilization and mass detention of nearly a million Uyghurs. Beijing has denied the allegations. Russia has been accused of war crimes in Ukraine, charges it denies.
Kishida took a train from Poland to Kyiv just hours after meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and a week after a decisive summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yoel.
Both China and Japan have had recent diplomatic successes that have emboldened their foreign policy.
Japan, which has engaged in territorial disputes over the islands with China and Russia, is particularly concerned about Beijing-Moscow relations. The two countries have conducted joint military exercises near the Japanese coast.
Beijing’s diplomatic foray follows its recent success in brokering an agreement between Iran and its main rival in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, to restore relations after years of tension. The move showed China’s influence in a region where Washington has long been the main foreign player.
Kishida became Japan’s first post-war leader to enter a war zone.
Due to its pacifist principles, Japan’s support to Ukraine has been limited to non-lethal equipment and humanitarian supplies. It has given over $7 billion to Ukraine and taken in more than 2,000 displaced Ukrainians, despite its strict immigration policy.
Tokyo joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia over the invasion. In contrast, China refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and criticized Western sanctions against Moscow, while accusing NATO and Washington of provoking Putin’s military action.
Japan fears the possible impact of a war in East Asia, where China’s military has become increasingly assertive and has heightened tensions around self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said of Kishidas’ trip: We hope Japan can do more things to de-escalate the situation instead of the other way around.
Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Jill Lawless in London contributed.
Follow AP coverage of Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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