Xi starts “peace trip” in Moscow – Europe establishes ammunition pact

Berlin, Brussels What the Europeans think of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “peace trip” to Moscow was already made clear by the topics at the joint meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels: a European ammunition pact was on the agenda, which would ensure supplies for those of Russia to secure attacked Ukraine. Xi is not perceived in the EU as a peacemaker, but as a partner of the Russian aggressor Vladimir Putin.

Even the twelve-point plan to end the Ukraine war, which the Chinese leadership presented at the end of February, was met with skepticism in Brussels because China has not yet condemned the Russian invasion. Like NATO, the EU continues to focus on putting Ukraine in the best possible negotiating position with arms aid. “Ukraine still needs our support so that Ukraine can win peace,” explained Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens).

Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) added: Europe must “act quickly”. “A significant number of appropriate ammunition must be delivered to Ukraine” this year. To do this, Europe must pool its market power.

Germany is in the process of opening up its national framework agreements with the armaments industry to partners. Denmark and the Netherlands have already expressed an interest, Pistorius said.

Other states want to use the European Defense Agency for joint ammunition orders – to replenish their own depots, but also to supply Ukraine with supplies. The governments are following a suggestion by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Little room for diplomacy

The Spaniard had developed a three-stage concept at the beginning of the month. The EU countries should therefore “immediately” deliver artillery shells with the NATO standard caliber 155 millimeters to Ukraine and bundle orders to ammunition factories across Europe in order to get better conditions. With industrial policy interventions, the production capacity of the armaments industry is also to be increased.

Analyzes are circulating among Brussels diplomats according to which Ukraine is currently firing 110,000 grenades a month but would need 300,000 a month for a successful counteroffensive. Europe cannot deliver that much.

However, the EU states agreed on the promise to deliver “up to” one million artillery shells within a year. They followed, in a slightly weaker form, an Estonian initiative that the Handelsblatt reported on Friday.

>> Read here: Xi and Putin are building a common bulwark against the West

According to the EU, there is currently little scope for diplomatic initiatives. Especially since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on Friday. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron never let Putin break off contact. But from Northern and Eastern Europe, the view is gaining ground that the Kremlin boss belongs in court and can no longer be a negotiating partner for the EU.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin and Xi have been friends for many years and have proclaimed a partnership between their countries since the beginning of the war.

(Photo: AP)

Putin, on the other hand, receives support from China. Shortly before the start of the war, Xi and Putin, who have been friends for ten years, swore to each other that they would be “boundless partnerships” and at the same time presented a “common, authoritarian view of the international world order that undermines Western-liberal principles,” says Daniela Schwarzer, director for Europe and Central Asia of the Open Society Foundations. “Even if Xi has an interest in peace, that doesn’t make him a credible broker.”

China is firmly on Russia’s side

In recent months, the Chinese leadership has tried to mend ailing relations with Europe. The meeting between Putin and Xi could now jeopardize these efforts. The visit is a signal that Beijing is firmly on Russia’s side.

Although peace efforts are welcome, there is currently no basis for negotiations, says foreign policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Nils Schmid. In addition, it is clear: “There must be no military support for Russia from the Chinese side.”

>> Read here: Commentary: China is not a credible peace broker in Ukraine

The fear in Berlin is that Beijing could pressure the Ukrainian government to agree to a peace on Moscow’s terms. Vladimir Putin made it clear what such a peace would look like in a guest article in Renmin Ribao, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. Kyiv must acknowledge “new geopolitical realities” and accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and four Ukrainian regions last year.

A spokesman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) warned on Monday that there could be no dictated peace in the Russian sense. It is unacceptable for Russia to incorporate parts of Ukraine. China should also talk directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in its mediation efforts, the spokesman demanded.

In fact, Xi has not even spoken to Zelensky on the phone since the beginning of the war. In recent days there has been speculation that Xi could also call Zelensky for the first time.

CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen criticizes: “China is taking the opportunity to present itself as a peacemaker in the world without China having the serious will or ability to do so.”

More: Bundeswehr Brigadier General – “You don’t want to shoot at your own people”

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