A Ukrainian service member smokes in a shelter at a front line near the city of Bakhmut A Ukrainian service member smokes in a shelter at a front line near the city of Bakhmut 

Chinese and Ukrainian leaders talk peace as bloodshed continues

The president of war-torn Ukraine says he has held a meaningful dialogue with China's leader after Beijing unveiled a peace plan to end the armed conflict between Kyiv and Moscow. But there are no signs yet of peace returning to the frontline of the armed conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and injured.

By Stefan J. Bos

Footage has emerged of Ukrainian troops storming a Russian trench in a terrifying assault on the Wagner group of mercenaries. It is one of the many ongoing battles in and around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

As clashes continue, China appears ready to mediate in Europe's bloodiest armed conflict since World War Two.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media that he had a "long and meaningful" phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

He added that the phone call and the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China would, in his words, "give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations."

Zelensky did not immediately give any other details. Xi has so far met Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia's invasion, but not Zelenskiy, despite the Ukrainian president's pleas.

Wednesday's talks came after China distanced itself from remarks of its top diplomat in France, who questioned the sovereignty of Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing "respected the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all countries," including Ukraine, and upheld the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

The Chinese government released a peace proposal in February and called for a cease-fire and peace talks.

Battle for Bakhmut

But there are no signs of peace nearing soon at the frontline around Bakhmut, where Ukrainian soldier Roman Trokhymets tries to hold his position. "Wow, there was crazy rocket shelling here. What can I say? Living in trenches is a very crazy thing," he said in a video message.

"And I still can't believe I am not in Kyiv but that I am here in the dirt and 24/7 in a very dangerous place. But our mission is not over. So we must continue fighting for our freedom and victory," the soldier explained while showing garbage in his trench.

Kyiv wants to send him and others high-tech support, saying it is rapidly increasing its production of drones as demand grows on the front line.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

26 April 2023, 16:49