Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he welcomes China's willingness to help resolve the one-year-plus-long conflict in Ukraine as his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping says Bejing’s proposal on how to solve the crisis reflects global views.
President Xi is heading on Monday to Russia, where, according to the Chinese foreign ministry, the Chinese head of state would "play a constructive role in promoting peace talks."
Writing for a Chinese paper on the eve of the visit, Putin said he had "high expectations" of his pending talks with the Chinese leader, and hailed "China's willingness to play a constructive role in resolving" the conflict.
Russia started a military campaign in neighboring Ukraine last February. It says it launched the operation in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk against persecution by Kiev.
Back in 2014, the two republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.
"Russia is open to a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis by political-diplomatic means," Putin added in the article.
He, however, insisted on Kiev's recognition of "new geopolitical realities," namely Moscow's territorial sovereignty over the two republics as well as Ukraine's former territory of Crimea, all of which have voted to join the Russian Federation.
Putin also said he was grateful to Beijing for its "balanced" stance on events in Ukraine and its understanding of the conflict's background and the "real reasons" behind it.
Russia holds that the West's anti-Russian agendas, including its eagerness for inclusion of Ukraine in NATO -- and, therefore, the Western military alliance's expansion right up to Russia's borders -- forced Moscow to launch the war on the ex-Soviet Republic.
Ever since the beginning of the war, Western countries, led by the United States, have been slapping Russia with a slew of economic sanctions and pumping Ukraine full of advanced weapons, steps that Moscow says would only prolong the hostilities.
Ukraine ceasefire ‘unacceptable’: US
Striking a fresh note of discord, the United States said on Sunday that it would oppose any potential peace settlement that could result from Xi's visit to Russia.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made the remarks to Fox News, saying Washington would reject any such settlement.
Kirby said any ceasefire would "ratify," what he called, Russia’s "conquest" of Ukrainian lands, reiterating Washington's refusal to recognize Moscow's sovereignty over the former Ukrainian territories.
"What we have said before, and we’ll say it again today, that if coming out of this meeting, there’s some sort of call for a ceasefire, well, that’s just going to be unacceptable...," noted the American official.