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EU’s Top Diplomat Welcomes Beijing’s Clarification on Former Soviet States

FILE - European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media in Brussels on July 18, 2022.
FILE - European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks with the media in Brussels on July 18, 2022.

The European Union’s top diplomat described as good news China’s distancing from controversial comments from one of its envoys who questioned the sovereignty of Ukraine and other former Soviet states.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s remarks come after China’s ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, sparked an uproar by suggesting countries emerging from the ashes of the Soviet Union did not have status under international law.

“They [China] issued a tweet yesterday saying they hope that this statement or remark issued was not the official position of China,” Borrell said. “And now we have the concrete answer from China that it’s not. So, it’s good news.”

Made during an interview with French media, Ambassador Lu’s remarks add to European unease about China’s growing economic and political clout — and its stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing says it wants to be a mediator ending the war. But some EU member states are skeptical — especially those once part of the Soviet Union.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said at an EU foreign ministers meeting Monday in Luxembourg that “We’ve been always saying that we do not trust China as a mediator, as a possible mediator. It definitely has chosen a side. It’s sided with Russia, politically.”

Ammunitions for Ukraine was another top item at the Luxembourg meeting. The EU has promised to deliver a million artillery shells or missiles to Kyiv within a year. But member states are at odds over whether to procure them only within the EU — France’s position to boost the bloc’s defense industry — or tap other countries.

“I understand those who want to see the European military industry flourishing. Indeed, we need that. But if we delay currently, Ukrainians might not push as far and as successfully as they could with our assistance,” Landsbergis argued. “Therefore, speed is the main factor that we should be looking for now.”

The EU’s Borrell predicts member states would finalize a plan to procure ammunitions for Ukraine within days.