OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says China's attempts to broker peace in Ukraine will likely just help Russia re-arm and prolong the conflict.
In a Monday statement, Joly said the only way to end the war is for Russian President Vladimir Putin to "lay down his weapons and get out of Ukraine," and accused Moscow of turning to Beijing with a false premise.
"Make no mistake, the Russian regime is looking to buy time to resupply, recruit and re-attack," Joly said in the statement.
"A ceasefire not predicated on Russia's withdrawal of their troops from Ukrainian territory would only serve Putin's agenda by freezing the conflict before his losses become even greater."
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Russia, arriving on Monday for peace talks after Beijing laid out a proposal that calls for an end to the conflict, although Xi has no plans to visit Kyiv.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she wouldn't comment on Xi's motives, but said everyone must call out Moscow's "illegal and barbaric" invasion of Ukraine.
"The people responsible for that invasion are war criminals. Everyone in the world has a responsibility to be very clear about that," she said at an event in Oshawa, Ont.
"All the countries in the world have an absolutely clear interest in Putin's war failing, because Putin's invasion of Ukraine is the strongest challenge in a generation to the rules-based international order."
Freeland also noted the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant last Friday for Putin to face charges of war crimes.
"Countries that choose to support Russia are supporting war criminals and a war crime," Freeland said.
Canada and the other countries in the G7 have said since last October that they will support Ukraine "for as long as it takes" with humanitarian and military aid.
Yet developing countries have lamented feeling forced to choose sides between Russia's invasion and the West's opposition to it.
At last month's Munich Security Conference, countries such as Colombia argued that the conflict is diverting funding and attention away from the climate crisis, while others such as Namibia said the focus should be on ending the violence instead of assigning blame.
Beijing has argued along the same lines, and accused western powers of escalating the conflict through arms shipments.
"Our position has always been that dialogue and negotiation provides the fundamental way out for the Ukraine crisis, and that the international community needs to play a constructive role," China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday.
Wang also rejected reports that the U.S. State Department had found Chinese-made ammunition in Ukraine.
"It is the U.S., not China, that has been sending weapons to the battlefields in Ukraine. The U.S. needs to stop fuelling the fight with more weaponry and fanning the flame, stop pointing fingers at other countries or seeking to coerce and intimidate them, and play a constructive role," Wang said.
"President Xi's visit is a trip for friendship, a trip for co-operation and a trip for peace."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.
Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press