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Borrell urges Xi Jinping and Lula da Silva to visit Ukraine before talking about peace deals

"You cannot put on the same ground the aggressor and the aggressed and that's why we're supporting Ukraine," said Josep Borrell.
"You cannot put on the same ground the aggressor and the aggressed and that's why we're supporting Ukraine," said Josep Borrell. Copyright European Union 2023.
Copyright European Union 2023.
By Jorge Liboreiro
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Josep Borrell criticised the "benevolent approach" pursued by China and Brazil in regard to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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President Xi Jinping of China and President Lula da Silva of Brazil should travel to Ukraine and see the war "through the eyes of those who have been bombed" by Russian forces before engaging in any further peace-promoting efforts, said Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign policy chief.

Both China and Brazil have positioned themselves as potential peace brokers in the war, but their ambivalent views have been widely criticised by Western allies as biased, incomplete and Russian-leaning.

A 12-point document proposed by China called for the cessation of hostilities and the protection of nuclear power plants but failed to acknowledge the occupation of Ukrainian territories.

The paper pointedly avoids using the terms "war" or "invasion" to describe the circumstances inside the country, instead speaking of a "crisis," and calls for the abandonment of "Cold War mentality" and "unliteral sanctions."

Although badly received in the West, Beijing's plan was welcomed by Brazil's President Lula da Silva, who in recent days attracted controversy for suggesting the US and the EU were fuelling the war through their continued supplies of weapons to Ukraine.

Following a meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg, Josep Borrell issued his personal rebuke against both countries.

"I want to recall the horrible situation on the ground to all people who are calling for peace now. I'm calling for peace too," Borrell said on Monday afternoon.

"But it needs to be a just peace and until then we will continue to support Ukraine's defence," he went on.

"Recently some ideas were floated by China and also by Brazil. For a credible, honest peace effort, one needs to talk to Kyiv and to go there to see the aggression through the eyes of those who have been bombed."

Neither President Xi nor President Lula has visited Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion.

European leaders have encouraged Xi Jinping to at least have a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy but the Chinese leader remains non-committal.

Xi's refusal stands in stark contrast with the ties he has cultivated with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whom he called a "dear friend" during a recent visit to Moscow.

"One needs to be very clear about what's happening," Borrell continued.

You cannot put on the same ground the aggressor and the aggressed, and that's why we're supporting Ukraine.
Josep Borrell
EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy

"There is an aggressor who has violated the United Nations Charter and invaded another country. And there is a victim of this aggression."

Borrell then added the EU could not accept "this kind of benevolent approach" where the two parties appear to be equally blamed for the war.

"You cannot put on the same ground the aggressor and the aggressed, and that's why we're supporting Ukraine," he said.

Speaking more specifically about China's widely-debated stance, Borrell urged Beijing to apply international rules "entirely" and "not selectively."

"When it comes to Russia's unjustified war against Ukraine, China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has the responsibility of defending the United Nations Charter," he said.

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Once again, Borrell said the 27 EU countries needed to reassess the bloc's unified strategy on China to take into account all the developments of recent years.

The last EU strategy on China dates back to 2019.

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