Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reuters

​China’s delicate dance on Ukraine

Over 18 months of war, President Xi Jinping’s pledge of “friendship without limits” with Russia has repeatedly been tested. China blames the West for Russia’s invasion and continues to buy Russia’s oil at discount prices, but it has also refused to endorse Russian claims on Ukrainian land and offers itself as a neutral player that wants peace.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Reuters

The Saudis want to be peacemakers in Ukraine

The Ukraine diplomatic sweepstakes continue with representatives from more than 40 countries set to gather this weekend in the Saudi city of Jeddah to try and forge a path towards peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Kyiv will attend the conference, but Russia wasn’t invited – though the Kremlin says it’ll watch the shindig closely.

This event comes after a similar summit was held in Copenhagen in June. So how is this one different?

First, after balking at the Danes’ invite last time, China has now agreed to attend. That’s a big win for Ukraine, which knows that Beijing has Putin’s ear. It’s also a win for the Saudis, who want the conference to be viewed by the West and Russia alike as a serious diplomatic forum.

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Xi Jinping during the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an.

Mark Cristino/Pool via REUTERS

Will China end Russia’s war?

China can end the war in Ukraine. Xi Jinping is the one major world leader that both Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky would gladly meet with. And China is the one country that has both the carrots and the sticks that can persuade Putin and Zelensky to accept the tough-to-swallow compromises needed to make peace.

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