Chinese leader Xi Jinping with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan, September 15, 2022

Wednesday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy in Poland

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Visiting Beijing, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says she encouraged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to contact Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Raising the European Union’s “deep concern” about Vladimir Putin’s threat to put nuclear weapons in Belarus, she said China’s position on the UN Security Council gave it a responsibility to use its influence with Russia.

Von der Leyen also warned China that any arms shipments to Russia would “significantly harm” relations.

Xi declared that China and the EU should establish “correct mutual understanding and avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment”. He said of Ukraine:

China urges all parties to remain calm and reason, and work together to create conditions for peace talks….We oppose attempts that would add fuel to fire and complicate the situation.

China….supports Europe in putting forward ideas and proposals for a political solution to the Ukraine crisis based on its own fundamental and long-term interests, and promote the establishment of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework.

A “French diplomatic source” said, after the meeting between Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron, that China is ready to work with France to “push hard” for peace talks.

The official said Xi indicated that he is ready to call Ukraine’s Zelenskiy “in his own time”.

Macron reinforced Von der Leyen’s message that China should not deliver anything that Russia could use “in its war in Ukraine”.


Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko has hedged over Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Russian tactical nuclear weapons will be placed in Belarusian territory.

Meeting Putin in Moscow, Lukashenko was asked about remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron — made earlier today in Beijing — that no country should deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of another.

“I agree with him,” Lukasheno said. Then he turned the issue back on the US: “This is why Americans should remove all the nuclear weapons from five or six countries where they are deployed. And that’s it.”

Lukashenko conitnued, “I believe that nuclear weapons should be dragged into one pile and should be destroyed literally within a certain period of time….It is the best option. But for now we will act like them.”

Last week Putin, reacting to Russia’s military difficulties in Ukraine, said Moscow would deploy nuclear weapons outside its territory for the first time since the mid-1990s.

See also Ukraine War, Day 396: Putin Blusters About Russian Nuclear Weapons in Belarus

Putin said today, from the Kremlin during a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus:

The Russian Federation and Belarus are building up cooperation in the field of defense and security, expanding in the military-technical sphere. This is especially important against the backdrop of a difficult international situation.


Two mobilized Russian men have been sentenced to three years in prison for refusing to go to the frontline in Ukraine.

Called up in Vladimir Putin’s mass mobilization last September, Yury Degtyarev and Alexei Selivanov were among the first conscripts detained for refusing service.

A video of their arrest, during a lineup in front of their fellow soldiers at a military base in Belgorod, circulated online in November.


Meeting Chinese leader outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, French President Emmanuel Macron said:

The Russian aggression in Ukraine has dealt a blow to stability. I know I can count on you to bring back Russia to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table.

After the “frank and constructive” 90-minute meeting, Macron said he and Xi agreed that nuclear weapons should be excluded from the conflict.


The latest Russian shelling across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has killed five civilians and wounded nine.

Two people were killed and three wounded in the frontline city of Bakhmut.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported destruction of a kindergarten, two private houses, and three high-rise buildings.

Two women were killed during shelling of the village of Oleksiievo-Druzhkivka, south of Kramatorsk. Four people were injured from shrapnel and mine explosions.

One person was killed in the village of Serhiivka.

In Zvanivka, a school, a cultural center, a shop, and more than 20 private houses were damaged.


Swedish prosecutors say it is still unclear who sabotaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last September.

The pipelines, running from Russia to Germany, were damaged by explosions near a Danish island in the Baltic Sea.

Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said:

We are working unconditionally and turning over every stone and leaving nothing to chance.

Our hope is to be able to confirm who has committed this crime, but it should be noted that it likely will be difficult given the circumstances.

The prosecutor said “the clear main scenario” is that a state-sponsored group is behind the sabotage. An independent group isstill “theoretically possible”, but the type of explosive used excludes “a large portion of actors”.

He cautioned against unfounded speculation over responsibility for the sabotage: “These speculations are nothing that affects the preliminary investigation, which is based on the facts and information that emerged from analyses, crime scene investigations and cooperation with authorities in Sweden and in other countries.”

Russian State propaganda, using the speculation of former journalist Seymour Hersh, is pushing the line that the US, Denmark, and Norway were all involved in the explosions affecting three of the four pipleines.

In early March, leaks from US intelligence officials and German investigators suggested that a “pro-Ukrainian” group, of Ukrainian and/or Russian nationals, carried out the operation.


A senior advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said that, as soon as their troops reach the border of Russian-occupied Crimea, Kyiv will enter talks about the future of the peninsula.

Andriy Sybiha, the deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office, said:

If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we will be on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open [a] diplomatic page to discuss this issue.

He added the important caveat, “It doesn’t mean that we exclude the way of liberation by our army.”

In late March 2022, during the only face-to-face talks with Russian officials over the invasion, Ukraine offered a 15-year consultation period over the future of Crimea, seized by Moscow’s forces in 2014.

However, Ukrainian officials say the proposal, part of a wider plan to end the invasion, was overtaken by revelations of Russian war crimes and mass killings of civilians.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: China has stepped back from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying that it does not support Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” and does not provide military assistance.

Beijing sent its message through its Permanent Representative to the European Union, Fu Cong, just before French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in China for discussions.

In an interview with The New York Times, Fu added that China does not recognize Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territories, including the Crimea peninsula and the Donbas area in eastern Ukraine.

The diplomat poured further water on the Kremlin’s hope, amid Russia’s military and economic struggles, for substantial Chinese assistance. He said a statement in February 2022 about “boundless friendship” between the countries, just before the invasion, “is nothing but rhetoric”.

Fu did stop short of any condemnation of the Russian attacks. He said China understands Russia’s claims of a defensive war against NATO and “the real reasons [for the assault] are more complicated” than those set out by Western leaders.

Beijing’s Attention to Europe

Fu’s interview pointed to a Chinese priority in re-establishing trade relations with Europe.

He expressed concern that “Europe has not formulated a coherent policy toward China”. However, he welcomed Von der Leyen’s statement that the European Union should “de-risk” its relationship with China by setting new ground rules rather than “decoupling” or withdrawing.

“I think that is a positive message, we have to give her that,” the diplomat said.

Von der Leyen said in Brussels, just before setting off for China, that the EE-China relationship has become “more distant and more difficult”, as China tries to become “the world’s most powerful nation”.

China’s is the largest exporter to the EU, and is the third-largest destination for the EU’s goods.

But in 2021 the EU imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and entities over the treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region northwest China. Beijing retaliated with sanctions on EU lawmakers. Completion of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment has been stalled.

Fu said that he hoped both sides would remove sanctions and confirm the investment agreement.

EU diplomats have said that in recent private meetings, Fu has suggested China could unilaterally lift sanctions if it unblocks the agreements.

In contrast to his words on Europe, Fu denounced the US. He said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was “spreading lies on TV”, including a statement in February that China was considering the supply of lethal military aid to Russia.

The diplomat accused Washington of using the pretext of security to restrict China’s development, and called on Europe to develop more “strategic autonomy”.

Macron: China Can Play “Major Role” to End Invasion

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down Fu’s remarks:

The whole context of our mutual understanding is set out in two documents, two signed statements that were adopted as a result of Russian-Chinese negotiations. They are very informative and they fully cover the entire range of issues that are on the joint agenda.

Upon arrival in Beijing on Wednesday, France’s Macron said China can play a “major role” to end the invasion because of its close relationship with Russia.

He emphasized dialogue with China, but added a veiled warning to Beijing not to get too close to Putin:

We have decided since the beginning of the conflict to help the victim, and we have also made it very clear that anyone helping the aggressor would be an accomplice in breach of international law.