By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday to push Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and stress to Moscow the importance of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Cleverly spoke to Reuters in an interview on the same day that Wang met Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Russia announced that Putin would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks in Beijing in October.
China and Russia announced a “no limits” partnership shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
But China has largely abstained on U.N. General Assembly votes – adopted with overwhelming support among the 193-member body – that demanded Russia stop fighting and immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops from Ukraine.
It appears to reflect a bid by China to stay on the diplomatic fence over the war in Ukraine. Beijing says the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, but – in a nod to Russia’s unease about NATO – believes all security concerns should be addressed.
“We know that President Xi has significant influence on the world stage, including with Vladimir Putin. I know that Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be traveling to Moscow and I hope that he will impress upon Russia the complete inappropriateness of their action. And I hope that China will call for Russia to withdraw.”
“China has made, I think, important messages about the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, about the non-use of nuclear weapons.
“We support those messages and we hope that those messages will be repeated when Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits Moscow.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Howard Goller)