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Poland urges China to pressure Russia to end war in Ukraine

An art installation representing Russian crimes in Ukraine is seen near the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland called on China to exert pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine during a meeting between two top officials in Warsaw, the Polish foreign ministry said on Friday.

China's Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui is on a tour of European capitals and was in Kyiv on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he discussed ways to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict through a political settlement.

In a statement issued following talks between Li and Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Wojciech Gerwel, the Polish foreign ministry said that Gerwel had called on Beijing to use its influence on Russia.

"Deputy Minister Gerwel recognized China's responsibility as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, and expressed the hope that China... will condemn Russia's aggression, and exert pressure on Russia to return to compliance with the principles of international law," the statement said.

Poland was concerned by Chinese declarations that it wants to strengthen ties with Russia, the statement said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a "no limits" partnership agreement last year just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. Beijing has declined to blame Moscow for the war and has condemned Western sanctions on Russia.

Gerwel told Li that Poland hoped that China would never recognise the annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russia and said military aid from Beijing for Moscow would have "grave consequences" for relations with Europe.

China has repeatedly denied sending military equipment to Russia.

Li said China attached importance to Poland's role in regional affairs and was willing to continue to communicate with Poland on the political settlement of the crisis, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Kyiv has ruled out the idea of any territorial concessions to Russia and has said it wants every inch of its land back.

Since February, Beijing has heavily promoted a 12-point proposal for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.

The plan, launched on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion, was largely a reiteration of China's previous lines on the war. It urged both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation and warned against the use of nuclear weapons.

Li is the most senior Chinese official to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

According to the Polish statement, Li said during the talks that the situation in Ukraine was "not in anyone's interest" but that there was "no easy solution".

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong and Ella Cao in Beijing; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Nick Macfie)