Russian president Vladimir Putin welcomed his Chinese counterpart’s plan to settle “the acute crisis in Ukraine”, and a statement from the two nations has declared him ready to resume peace talks.
President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Monday for a historic three-day meeting between the two heads of state. The trip, which ended on Wednesday, sent a powerful message to Western leaders allied with Ukraine that their efforts to isolate Moscow had fallen short.
Xi has been very careful to maintain that China's position on the war in Ukraine in neutral. However, China has not condemned Russia’s role in launching the conflict.
But what has come of what China claims were "peace talks" with Russia, and what exactly is China's plan for ending the conflict?
What have Russia and China said about the situation in Ukraine after their talks?
Russia and China issued a joint statement on Thursday following talks between the pair. A Reuters translation said Russia "positively assesses the objective and unbiased position of the Chinese side on the Ukrainian question".
China had positively assessed Russia's willingness to make efforts to restart peace talks as soon as possible, the statement said, and both parties were "opposed to any states and their blocs damaging the legitimate security interests of other states in order to obtain military, political and other advantages".
It continued: "Russia welcomes China's readiness to play a positive role in a political-diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and the constructive ideas set forth in the document drawn up by the Chinese side."
The parties both noted that in order to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, it was "necessary to respect the legitimate concerns of all countries in the field of security and prevent the formation of bloc confrontation, and halt actions that further fuel the conflict".
"The parties stress that responsible dialogue is the best way for a sustainable resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, and the international community should support constructive efforts in this regard," the statement said.
China and Russia called for an end to all steps "that contribute to the escalation of tension and prolongation of hostilities, to avoid further degradation of the crisis to the point where it could cross over into an uncontrollable phase". They opposed all unilateral sanctions imposed in circumvention of the UN Security Council, it said.
What is China's plan to settle the conflict?
China has drawn up a document which sets out how to end the conflict, titled: "On China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukrainian Crisis."
The peace proposal put forward by Beijing is made up of 12 steps, starting with respecting the sovereignty of all countries involved, and abandoning the "Cold War mentality". It then calls for a ceasefire.
"Conflict and war benefit no one," it reads. "All parties must stay rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and aggravating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiralling out of control."
It then recommends resuming peace talks, asking the international community to support Russia and Ukraine "working in the same direction", before working to resolve the humanitarian crisis in conflict zones, with support from the UN.
"Humanitarian operations should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be set up for the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones," it says.
Efforts should then be made to protect civilians and prisoners of war and keep nuclear power plants safe, the plan says. It called for strategic risks - like the threat of using nuclear weapons - to be reduced., saying: "Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed."
Ukraine's grain exports needed to be facilitated, China said, but unilateral sanctions also needed to be stopped. All parties needed to keep industrial and supply chains stable.
Finally, the plan called for promoting post-conflict reconstruction. "The international community needs to take measures to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict zones. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this endeavour."
The document has already largely been dismissed by the West, primarily because China — which has said it has a “no-limits” relationship with Moscow — is not seen as an impartial broker, and the proposal says nothing about a Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory it has occupied by force.
What else has come from Putin and Xi's meeting?
A Kremlin spokesperson said the leaders had planned to address a number of different topics in their talks, while China has said Xi’s visit to Russia was a “journey of friendship, co-operation and peace”.
During the visit on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin responded to a British plan to deliver ammunition for its promised Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, which contained depleted uranium.
Speaking after talks with Xi, Putin said Britain's plans to provide Ukraine with ammunition for battle tanks containing depleted uranium heralds the West switching to supplying Kyiv with weapons containing nuclear components. He said that Russia will respond if it happens, but did not elaborate further.