BRUSSELS — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday ahead of her visit to China later this week.
“Ukraine will be an important topic of my meetings with President Xi and Premier Li,” von der Leyen tweeted after the call, referencing her upcoming meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Li Qiang, the country’s premier.
Von der Leyen’s sitdown with Xi is slated for Thursday. At the get-together, the EU leader is expected to broach the topic of China’s role in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“The EU wants a just peace that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” von der Leyen added.
In a speech last week, von der Leyen rejected China’s peace proposal for Ukraine — which recognizes seized Ukrainian territory as Russian — as “simply not a viable plan” and expressed concerns that the country may be siding with Russia in the ongoing conflict.
The remarks reflected a hardening approach from EU officials toward China.
On Tuesday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that China’s “position on Russia’s atrocities and war crimes will determine the quality of our relationship.”
Borrell also announced Tuesday that he will visit Beijing next week.
Von der Leyen will join French President Emmanuel Macron during her time in China. A Commission spokesperson confirmed that she will hold a meeting with Xi and Macron, followed by a talk with the Chinese leader.