China could facilitate, not mediate, peace in Ukraine -EU’s Borrell

MADRID (Reuters) – China cannot be a mediator in the war in Ukraine as it leans too much toward the invader Russia but it could play the role of facilitator to reach a peace deal with Moscow, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Friday.

“China does not distinguish between aggressor and victim of aggression,” Borrell told a panel at the Spanish capital Madrid. “China doesn’t call for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.”

But China should use its influence over Russia to pressure for peace in Ukraine, he added.

In Borrell’s view, the only peace plan on the table is the one presented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in November, including demands to withdraw Russian troops and restore Ukraine’s territory to the status quo before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Borrell’s comments echoed the call by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Beijing for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to talk to the Ukrainian president and learn first-hand about Kyiv’s peace formula.

Beijing last month put forward its own 12-point peace plan and called for a comprehensive ceasefire in the conflict.

Borrell said the EU would not accept a hypothetical situation of Russia installing a puppet regime in Ukraine with Russian troops deployed on the border with EU member Poland.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Writing by David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Porter)