China Snubs Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Davos as It Continues to Side With Russia's Vladimir Putin

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jan 18, 2024 06:10 AM EST

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy faced disappointment as his attempts to secure a meeting with Chinese officials during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week have become unsuccessful. 

According to Politico, despite the Ukrainian leaders' desire for in-person discussions with senior Chinese officials, including Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Zelenskyy returned home without the desired encounter, marking a blow to Kyiv's diplomatic efforts.

(Photo : FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on leaving his meeting with US National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on January 16, 2024.

Delegations of China, Ukraine in Switzerland

China's delegation in Switzerland had ample opportunity to engage with their Ukrainian counterparts in Bern or Davos. Ukraine has long wanted to hold frank, in-person discussions with senior officials from China, and they did not make this a secret.

Before Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference with Swiss President Viola Amherd in Bern on Monday, Ukraine's presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, emphasized the importance of China in joining peace talks and hinted at a potential meeting between Zelenskyy and Li.

But in the end, Ukraine did not get China to commit to negotiations, and Zelenskyy and Li failed to meet. It is the latest sign that China continues to side with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

China has chosen to align itself with Russia, supplying materials for military use that sustain Moscow's war effort amid Western pressure and sanctions.  

READ ALSO: At Davos, Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy Lashes Out at Russia's Vladimir Putin, Urges Allies to Step up Its Support for Kyiv

China Not Meeting Ukraine Intentional?

According to Politico, the decision of Chinese leaders not to meet with their Ukrainian counterparts appeared intentional and not the result of a scheduling problem. 

The outlet reported that a senior US official said China rejected Kyiv's meeting request during their visits to Switzerland, and another senior US official noted that China had rejected any gatherings with Kyiv after Moscow urged it to cease diplomatic encounters with Ukraine. 

However, a Ukrainian official denied the claims, saying there was no meeting with Chinese officials on the delegation's schedule and that Kyiv did not make a request for one. 

Without a Chinese meeting on his schedule, Zelenskyy spent time with critical partners, namely US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Both China and Ukraine have reportedly engaged in some diplomacy since Russia's invasion. Last April, Zelenskyy and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke on the phone, and the following month, China's Ukraine envoy went to Kyiv.

Relations have become less personal since then, but Ukraine hoped both sides could restart talks.

READ MORE: IMF Approves $900 Million for Ukraine as Volodymyr Zelenskyy Makes Plea for US Aid Ahead of Joe Biden Meeting

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