China supports Russia in its war with Ukraine despite its attempt to act as a neutral peace broker, according to the Lithuanian president.
In an interview with Euronews on Tuesday, Gitanas Nausėda said Beijing has an important role to play in the Ukraine conflict and should stay on the right side of history.
“Unfortunately, I see the aim of China is to continue this war, to make this war even more bloody and in such a situation that China is in the hidden or open form supporting Russia,” the Lithuanian leader said.
“It’s very difficult, not trustful, to believe that China may play the role of mediator between the two countries. It should at least be neutral.
“I can imagine such a status, but now I do not see the possibilities and I think China has to consider what it wants to achieve in this war. So far, I evaluate and I see the role of China as rather destructive than constructive.”
Nausėda’s comments come amidst growing speculation of an imminent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss the prospects for peace.
Beijing has released a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine in which it never uses the words “war” or invasion”, labelling the Russian aggression on Ukraine as a “crisis”.
Moscow has welcomed the plan, which calls for a cessation of hostilities, the resumption of peace talks, the protection of nuclear power plants and the preservation of food and supply chains and the abandonment of the so-called “Cold War mentality”, but the EU was a lot more critical. The European Commission branded it “selective” and based on a biased interpretation of international law.
Meanwhile, the US and Western allies have publicly warned China that delivering lethal weapons to Russia would be a red line for them. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to raise the topic when he goes on an official visit to China in early April.
In relation to sanctions, Nausėda thinks that the measures rolled out so far have done some damage to Russia’s economy, but he expected more.
The Lithuanian president now wants EU goverments to overcome their national interests in order to improve more restrictive measures in the nuclear sector.
“Take the tenth package of sanctions. It could be stronger,” he said during an interview in the Strasbourg European Parliament.
“Our suggestion was to include (Russia’s state nuclear corporation) Rosatom as a company, to include board members. We know what is happening in Zaporizhzhia and they are just threatening all of us in Europe with a nuclear catastrophe there.
“But due to some interests, due to individual approaches of the individual countries, we are not able to take the decision in this regard.”
Nausėda is also in favour of delivering all kinds of weapons to Ukraine, including fighter jets, and to do it as fast as possible because the war is costing a lot in terms of human lives and infrastructure destruction.
“We are entering the critical stage of this war and it is very important to stay decisive,” he told Euronews.
“Russia is decisive and Russia is able to concentrate all their resources because this is not a democratic country and they can ignore the needs of society in other fields, in [the] social-economic field, and they are concentrating their efforts, boosting the defense industry.
“But we can do the same, and we should and must do the same.”
President Nausėda adds that he is pessimistic about the possibility of a return to the negotiating table in the foreseeable future, given that Moscow and Kyiv have such distant positions.