Ukraine war: Zelenskiy invites China’s president Xi to visit country

Ukraine president issues warning over consequences of losing Bakhmut

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has extended an invitation to Chinese president Xi Jinping to visit.

“We are ready to see him here,” Mr Zelenskiy said.

Mr Xi has not talked to Mr Zelenskiy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year but China published a 12-point plan for “a political resolution of the Ukraine crisis” last month.

Mr Xi discussed the conflict with his “dear friend”, Russian president Vladimir Putin, while on a state visit to Moscow last week, although the talks did not show progress on how to end the war.


China's proposal includes a call for a de-escalation and eventual ceasefire in Ukraine.

But the United States has been dismissive of the proposal, given that China has declined to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The United States says a ceasefire now would lock in Russian territorial gains and give Putin's army more time to regroup.

Ukraine has welcomed China’s diplomatic involvement but Mr Zelenskiy has said he will only consider peace settlements after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.

China, economically and politically aligned toward Russia across many decades, has provided Mr Putin diplomatic cover by staking out an official position of neutrality in the war.

Mr Xi visited Putin in Russia last week, raising the prospect that Beijing might be ready to provide Moscow with weapons and ammunition but the trip ended without any such announcement.

Meanwhile, Mr Zelenskiy has warned defeat in the battle for Bakhmut would enable Russia to start building international support for a deal that would require his nation to make unacceptable compromises.

Mr Zelensky said if the eastern city of Bakhmut fell to Russian forces after a protracted battle, Mr Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran”.

“If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push,” he said.

Mr Zelenskiy warned that a loss anywhere at this stage in the war could put Ukraine’s hard-fought momentum at risk.

“We can’t lose the steps because the war is a pie — pieces of victories. Small victories, small steps,” he said.

“Our society will feel tired. Our society will push me to have compromise with them.”

While Mr Zelensky acknowledged the war has “changed us”, he said it has made his society stronger.

“It could’ve gone one way, to divide the country, or another way — to unite us,” he said. “I’m thankful to everybody — every single partner, our people, thank God, everybody — that we found this way in this critical moment for the nation.

“Finding this way was the thing that saved our nation, and we saved our land. We are together.”

Some in the United States — including former president and 2024 candidate Donald Trump — have questioned whether Washington should continue to supply Ukraine with billions of dollars in military aid and Mr Zelenskiy worries the war could be impacted by shifting political forces in Washington. — Reuters/AP