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China's Xi calls for 'maximum restraint' in Ukraine conflict

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A video screen displays French President Emmanuel Macron (bottom, L), German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (bottom, R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping attending a video-conference to discuss the Ukraine crisis, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on March 8, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has described the situation in Ukraine as "worrying," calling for "maximum restraint" to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the European country, where Russia has been conducting military strikes.

Xi made the remarks at a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, stressing that the priority should be preventing the situation in Ukraine from spinning out of control.

He said Beijing was "pained to see the flames of war reignited in Europe," calling on France and Germany to make efforts to reduce the negative impacts of the ongoing crisis.

"The pressing task at the moment is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even running out of control," he told Macron and Scholz, adding, "We need to call for maximum restraint to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis."

Xi said China was willing to "play an active role" in settling the ongoing crisis, adding that it stood ready to provide Ukraine with further humanitarian aid supplies.

The Chinese president further opposed economic sanctions against Russia, saying they would affect the stability of global finance, energy supplies, transportation, and supply chains and "dampen the global economy," which is already ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Xi said the three countries should jointly support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, as he urged Moscow and Kiev to "keep the momentum of negotiations" and "bring about peaceful outcomes."

However, in his strongest statement to date on the conflict, the Chinese president stopped short of condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from the US and its allies, imposing a long list of sanctions on Moscow.

The military conflict has so far displaced more than two million people in what the United Nations has described as the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Russia says it will halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of conditions.

Moscow has specified some of the demands as protection of its interests and nationals in Ukraine and prevention of the country’s accession to the Western military alliance of NATO.

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