Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy: “Possible cooperation to reach a fair and sustainable peace”

Wednesday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy — “This is the Year of Our Economic Growth”

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Russia’s Foreign Ministry has blocked a visit to detained journalist Evan Gershkovich by US Embassy staff.

The Foreign Ministry used the pretext that the US State Department will not process visas for “representatives from the journalistic pool” accompanying Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the UN in New York on Monday.

Seized in late March in Yekaterinburg, Gershkovich had been visited by US Ambassador Lynne Tracy, who also attended last week’s court hearing for the American citizen.


NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg says 98% of combat vehicles pledged to Ukraine have been delivered.

Stoltenberg said the supply of 1,550 armoured vehicles and 230 tanks is equivalent to nine new brigades: “This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.”

Training has also been given to thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.

While citing the “unprecedented military support”, Stoltenberg emphasized, “We should never underestimate Russia.” He noted the Kremlin is mobilizing more ground forces and is “willing to send in thousands of troops with very high casualty rates”.

The NATO head welcomed Wednesday’s call between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Chinese leader Xi Jinping but stressed, “Any possibility for meaningful negotiations requires that Ukraine has the necessary military strength to send a very clear message to President Putin that he will not win on the battlefield.”


Russia has adjusted its response to the phone call between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The Russian Foreign Ministry initially launched into a denunciation of Ukraine, the US, and the “West” (see Original Entry).

But on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We are ready to welcome anything that could hasten the end of the conflict in Ukraine.”

He immediately added that Moscow will not end its invasion until “Russia [is] achieving all the goals it has set itself”.

Peskov did say with a bit of an edge, both towards Ukraine and China, “As for the fact that they communicated – that is a sovereign matter for each of these countries and a question of their bilateral dialogue.”


US intelligence assessed in early March that Russia could fund its invasion of Ukraine for at least another year.

The Top Secret assessment was among hundreds of classified documents leaked in a Discord discussion group from last year to March.

“Moscow is relying on increased corporate taxes, its sovereign wealth fund, increased imports, and businesses’ adaptability to help mitigate economic pressures,” wrote the analysts.

The document does not cover recent sanctions such as the international price cap on imports of Russian oil and oil products (see 0805 GMT).


Ukraine and Russia announced on Wednesday that a total of 84 prisoners of war have been exchanged.

Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said 36 privates and sergeants, six officers, and two civilians returned to Ukraine. The troops had defended Mariupol, Azovstal, and Kherson and fought in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said 40 soldiers had been released.


Russia’s revenue from oil exports fell by more than 30% between January and March, analyzes the Kyiv School of Economics.

The institute assesses that 3/4 of the fall in Russian sales of oil and oil products is due to international sanctions, including a global price cap of $60 per barrel on imports of Moscow’s crude oil, $100 per barrel on high-grade refined products, and $45 per barrel on lower-grade refined products.

Russian revenues were $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2023, compared with $54.5 billion in the same period last year. Sales of crude fell 12%.

However, there may be some relief for Russia in a rising price for its main grade of oil from a low of $35 per barrel in January to about $55 per barrel this week.

The increase in the price of Urals crude has been driven by demand from India and China.

The Kyiv School of Economics noted the breaking of the price cap for almost all crude oil from Russia’s Pacific port of Kozmino, selling well above $60 per barrel.


Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has voted for even tougher measures to shut down dissent.

The measures include raising the sentence for treason from 20 years to life. Citizenship can be removed for anyone speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Senators also increased maximum sentences for convictions on “terrorism” and sabotage charges. They authorized five-year prison sentences for anyone complying with International Criminal Court orders, following the ICC’s arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin last month.


Ukraine military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatiy said Wednesday that Russia attacked with artillery and rockets 324 times in 24 hours.

He cited Russia’s 11-month assault on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine: “The Russians are destroying buildings in Bakhmut to prevent our soldiers from using them as fortifications.”

Cherevatiy also noted a record number of attacks in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine. The Russians again targeted Kupyansk where two civilians were killed and 15 wounded in a strike on a museum on Tuesday.


The European Union has hailed the conversation between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer said:

It is an important, long overdue first step by China in exercising its responsibilities as a member of the UN security council.

China’s leadership needs to use its influence to bring Russia to end its war of aggression, restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and respect its sovereignty, as a basis for a just peace.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the call is a “good thing” but cautioned, “I don’t think we know that” the discussion would lead to peace talks.


A Russian missiles has killed one civilian and injured 23, including a child, in Mykolaiv city in southern Ukraine.

The Kalibr missiles, fired from the Black Sea damaged 22 multi-story buildings, 12 private houses, and other residential buildings, said regional governor Vitaly Kim.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: In a dramatic and significant shift of diplomatic position, China’s leader Xi Jinping has put Kyiv and Moscow on the same footing over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Xi called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the first time during the invasion. Zelenskiy hailed the “long and meaningful” conversation that “will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations”. He said the discussion focused on “possible cooperation to reach a fair and sustainable peace”.

That the call even took place is notable. Zelenskiy had long sought the encounter, elevating the request after Xi’s visit to Putin in Moscow just over a month ago.

However, Beijing soon gave the discussion even more importance. Officials said Xi told Zelenskiy of the despatch of a delegation of Ukraine to pursue talks to end the conflict.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry referred not only to bilateral relations and “mutual respect and sincerity” but also a “strategic partnership” — the same two words it used for the Xi-Putin meeting.

Having publicly rejected any lethal military assistance to Moscow, the Foreign Ministry emphasized China as a neutral actor pursuing a political resolution between the two sides.

On the Ukraine crisis, China always stands on the side of peace. Its core stance is to facilitate talks for peace.

China did not create the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to the crisis. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible major country, China would not sit idly by, nor would it add oil to the fire, still less exploit the situation for self gains.

Everything China does is above board. Dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way forward.

China State TV said Xi told Zelenskiy,“Negotiation is the only viable way out. There is no winner in a nuclear war.”

Is China Covering Its Back or Pushing Ahead?

In late February, China issued a 12-point “peace plan”. The provisions are vague, but do start from the premise that the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld”.

Despite Xi’s high-profile appearance in Moscow, Beijing has publicly foregrounded the 12-point plan, including an ultimate ceasefire, and has repeated that it will not give Russia military assistance. Fu Cong, the Permanent Representative to Europe, said Beijing does not recognize Putin’s annexations of four Ukrainian regions: Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.

However, China puts a question mark over its position two weeks ago when its Ambassador to France — responding to a question about the status of Russian-occupied Crimea — appeared to deny Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Even these ex-Soviet Union countries do not have effective status, as we say, under international law because there’s no international accord to concretise their status as a sovereign country.

On Monday, without commenting specifically on Crimea, the Chinese Foreign Ministry walked backed the remarks: “China respects the sovereign status of the former soviet countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”

The Ministry’s statement on Wednesday did not indicate whether the Xi call was a further response to Lu Shaye’s unsettling of the Chinese position, or whether it represented a further shift.

But Russia was rattled. In its response later in the day, Moscow avoided any criticism of China amid its stream of invective against Kyiv and Ukraine’s international partners.

The Ukrainian authorities and their western minders have already shown their ability to mess up any peace initiatives.

THe Russian Foreign Ministry cited “the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process” while mainitaining that Kyiv’s “eventual consent to negotiations is conditioned by ultimatums with obviously unrealistic demands”.