Beijing tried to warn Brussels that sanctions and military aid would not work against Moscow, diplomat Wu Hongbo has said Wu Hongbo speaks during the Mediterranean Dialogues conference in Rome, Italy, December 7, 2019 © AP / Alessandra Tarantino

The European Union must avoid driving Russia “into a corner” and sit down to talks with Moscow if it hopes to end the conflict in Ukraine, China’s envoy to Europe said on Wednesday.

Speaking to China’s CGTN television network, Special Representative on European Affairs Wu Hongbo said that he warned his EU counterparts from the outset that “military intervention or sanctions” would not deter Moscow from carrying out its military operation in Ukraine.

“They wouldn’t believe us,” Wu said, adding that “since the sanctions did not work at all and the military supplies only added fuel to the fire,” EU officials have approached the Chinese Foreign Ministry, asking Chinese diplomats to “convince [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to put a stop to the conflict.”

Wu added that he told the Europeans not to “overestimate our influence on Russia,” and reminded them that “Russia is an independent sovereign state.”

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“We also said that the issue should be handled with care,” Wu continued. “If you continue to push and there is no way for the other to maneuver, it’s like you drive someone into a corner and it will be very difficult for the two sides to sit down.”

Wu insisted that the conflict can only be ended with a “negotiated settlement,” and that whatever security framework emerges in Europe afterwards, Russia must be involved in its formation.

The day after Wu’s interview, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Beijing. While von der Leyen told Xi that “it is essential to put an end to the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” a readout of the meeting from the Chinese Foreign Ministry simply said that the EU side would like to “work for the settlement of regional hotspots including Ukraine and the Middle East.”

In meetings with Xi and his officials earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz both pressed the Chinese government to convince Putin to withdraw from Ukraine. Both were unsuccessful, with Xi continuing to promote China’s 12-point roadmap to settling the conflict, and the two Europeans returning to their policies of arming Ukraine while insisting that Kiev alone will decide when to sue for peace. (RT)