France, EU urge China’s president to use influence to persuade Russia to end Ukraine war

France and the European Commission on Monday told China’s President Xi Jinping that they wanted him to leverage his influence on Russia to end its war in Ukraine, while underscoring that the European Union would not waver in its support for Kyiv. President Emmanuel Macron in his first visit to Europe in five years and held talks with him and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Paris as they sought to show a united front on issues ranging from trade to Ukraine. China has strengthened trade and military ties with Russia in recent years as the U.S. and its allies imposed sanctions on both countries, especially on Moscow since its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. China-Russian trade hit a record of $240.1 billion in 2023, up 26.3% from a year earlier, Chinese customs data shows. Chinese shipments to Russia jumped 46.9% in 2023 while imports from Russia rose 13%. Beyond the financial ties, Western powers have been especially worried that Beijing could provide weapons to Moscow and circumvent existing sanctions on materials that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.”We count on China to use all its influence on Russia to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” von der Leyen told reporters after a trilateral meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Macron said coordination with China on Ukraine was “absolutely decisive.” Fighting on Ukraine’s eastern front has worsened in recent weeks as Kyiv’s troops await crucial U.S. and European military aid to beat back a Russian advance. The two European leaders were keen to underline to Xi that despite Ukraine’s current difficulties, they were determined to continue backing it and that Beijing needed to realize that the conflict was likely to last, with Western powers not ready to abandon Kyiv, diplomatic sources said. Western powers have been trying for more than a year to convince China .The diplomatic sources said Xi had been clear that Beijing did not intend to supply weapons to Moscow and that it was ready to look into the issue of dual-usage materials that enabled Russia’s war effort. They said they would now have to see whether commitments turned into actions. The EU is currently discussing possible sanctions against some Chinese firms. Xi was quoted by Chinese state media as saying all parties wished to see an early ceasefire, a return of peace in Europe and to avoid any further escalation.”China did not create , nor is it a party to it,” state media quoted Xi as saying. “All along, China has been working vigorously to facilitate talks for peace.”Russian President Vladmir Putin is expected to travel to China later in May in what could be his first overseas trip of his new presidential term.