China, India call for way out of Ukraine
Published on: Monday, September 26, 2022
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A Russian T-72 tank is loaded on a truck by Ukrainian soldiers outside the town of Izyum, as the Ukrainian counter-offensive seized most of the northeast Kharkiv region.
A Russian T-72 tank is loaded on a truck by Ukrainian soldiers outside the town of Izyum, as the Ukrainian counter-offensive seized most of the northeast Kharkiv region.
UNITED NATIONS: China and India at the weekend called at the United Nations for a negotiated end to the Ukraine war, stopping short of robust support for traditional ally Russia.

After a week of pressure at the United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s foreign minister took the General Assembly rostrum to deliver a fiery rebuke to Western nations for what he termed a “grotesque” campaign against Russians.

But no major nation has rallied behind Russia, including China, which just days before the February invasion of Ukraine had vowed an “unbreakable” bond with President Vladimir Putin.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on both Russia and Ukraine to “keep the crisis from spilling over” and from affecting developing countries.

“China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis. The pressing priority is to facilitate talks for peace,” Wang said.

“The fundamental solution is to address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture.”

During his visit to the United Nations, Wang met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in their first talks since the war began.

Earlier this month Putin acknowledged Chinese “concerns” about Ukraine during a meeting with his counterpart Xi Jinping. 

US officials have been heartened by what they see as China’s lack of concrete backing for the war and say that Beijing has declined requests to send military equipment, forcing Russia to rely on North Korea and Iran as its own supplies dwindle.

China’s reaction to Russia is being closely watched for clues on its approach to Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its territory.

Wang held firm that China would take “forceful steps” against any interference, insisting that efforts to prevent “reunification” with Taiwan would be “crushed by the wheels of history.”

India, unlike China, has a warm relationship with the United States but it has historic ties with Russia, its traditional defence supplier.

“As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side we are on,” said India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Our answer, each time, is straight and honest—India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there,” he said.

“We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out.” 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a news conference declined to answer whether there has been any pressure from China. 

Russia on Saturday toughened penalties for soldiers voluntarily surrendering or refusing to fight, with up to 10 years imprisonment, and it replaced its top logistics general after a series of setbacks to its seven-month war in Ukraine.

Those developments come days after Russia instigated a partial mobilisation affecting up to 300,000 additional troops, at a time when Kyiv has taken back more and more territory in a stunning counter-offensive.

Seemingly in response to the new Russian penalties, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly addressed Russian citizens on Saturday, telling them that their president was knowingly “sending citizens to their death.”

Speaking in Russian, he called on Moscow’s forces to surrender, saying, “You will be treated in a civilised manner... No one will know the circumstances of your surrendering.”

His pointed remarks came as Kremlin-held regions of eastern and southern Ukraine voted for a second day on whether to become part of Russia, dramatically raising the stakes in the conflict. 

Integrating the four regions into Russia would mean that Moscow would consider any military move there as an attack on its own territory.

Zelensky has denounced the polls, on Friday calling them “crimes against international law and the law of Ukraine”.

Ukraine’s recent gains have laid bare flaws in Russia’s approach since it invaded on February 24, with some analysts seeing logistics as the weak link in Moscow’s army.

“Army General Dmitry Bulgakov has been relieved of the post of deputy minister of defence” and will be replaced by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, aged 60, the defence ministry said.

Russia’s partial mobilisation, announced on Wednesday, will likely be one of Mizintsev’s first big logistical challenges, with the hundreds of thousands of reservists being called up needing equipment and training before deployment.

Military-age men have sought to leave, with flights full and neighbouring countries receiving an influx of Russians. Some 2,300 private vehicles were waiting at one crossing into Georgia, regional Russian authorities said. 

Now that President Vladimir Putin has signed the legislation, servicemen who desert, surrender “without authorisation”, refuse to fight or disobey orders can face up to 10 years imprisonment.

Looting will be punishable by 15 years imprisonment.

A separate law, also signed on Saturday, facilitates Russian citizenship for foreigners who enlist in the Russian army as the Kremlin seeks to bolster the ranks.

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