Russia-Ukraine war: China to send first peace talks team; Russia frees 44 Ukraine PoWs

As the endless Russia-Ukraine war continues, China is set to send the first peace talks delegation in its capacity as the main mediator in the conflict. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine has put out a tweet, according to which he “had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping [of China]”. The tweet yesterday hoped for a “powerful impetus” to “bilateral relations”.

President Xi Jinping of China and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@viktop55

The Chinese premier is close to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and, as such, possibly has a better chance of negotiating peace than any other top leader. Beijing indicated in early March this year — just over 12 months after the conflict began — that China was willing to become the mediator. Last evening, the news agency Reuters said, quoting Chinese media, that in his telephone conversation, Xi told Zelenskyy that he would send a team of special representatives to Ukraine for talks on ending the crisis with Russia.

One of the key developments in Ukraine-China relations is the appointment of Pavlo Ryabikin, a former Ukraine minister, as the country’s new ambassador to China. News of this appointment was out yesterday.

In early April, President Emmanuel Macron of France visited Beijing, accompanied by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, and they talked about possible Chinese mediation in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Also read: Russia-Ukraine war: EU ministers decry Chinese envoy’s remark on sovereignty of former Soviet states

Latest Ukraine-China PoW swap

Meanwhile, Russia has released yet another batch of prisoners of war (PoWs) to Ukraine.

One of the released prisoners of war. Photo courtesy: Twitter/ukraine_world

News of the 44 PoWs being released — of them, two were civilians and the rest were soldiers — was announced by senior Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak on the Telegram app. His post said that some of the soldiers bore marks of torture. A batch of 60 PoWs released by Russia to Ukraine last year also included people who were scarred from torture.

In September 2022, Ukraine had secured the release of some 215 of its people, both civilians and soldiers, in exchange for releasing 55 people to Russia. This was the biggest PoW swap since the start of the conflict on February 24, 2022, and reportedly this swap was made possible by the mediation of Türkiye.

Ukraine had announced then that 124 of its freed PoWs were military officers. Russia got back former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk, an ally of Vladimir Putin who was placed under arrest for alleged treason.