Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Chinese envoy Li Hui wrapped up a two-day visit to Ukraine Wednesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said — completing the first stop on a European tour focused on the war there, as Beijing attempts to fashion itself as a peacemaker in the grinding conflict, despite its close ties with Russia.

A seasoned former diplomat, Li served as ambassador to Russia from 2009 to 2019 and is the highest ranking Chinese official to travel to Ukraine since the start of Moscow’s devastating war.

Western leaders have hoped Chinese leader Xi Jinping might use his close rapport with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to end the conflict — an outcome that analysts say may be unlikely at this stage, given Beijing’s interests in maintaining the relationship.

Li met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during his visit on May 16 and 17, according to a statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, which did not specify if Li met President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The parties discussed “topical issues of cooperation between Ukraine and China,” as well as “ways to stop Russian aggression,” the statement said.

China has remained tight-lipped about the visit of Li, Beijing’s Special Representative on Eurasian Affairs, which it had billed as part of a five-country tour to promote communication toward “a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.”

When asked about Li’s trip at regular press briefings through Wednesday this week, China’s Foreign Ministry said information would be shared “in due course.”

Last week, the Foreign Ministry said Li would visit Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia starting May 15 — just days before the Group of Seven (G7) leaders are expected to affirm their solidarity against Moscow in a summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

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