President Xi Jinping should use his visit to Russia to urge Vladimir Putin to halt the bombings and other “atrocities” in Ukraine, Downing Street has said.
The Chinese leader arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit on Monday, just days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Mr Putin’s arrest, accusing him of bearing personal responsibility for the abduction of children from Ukraine.
The visit is being watched closely in the West for any shift in China’s position on the Russian invasion, amid simmering tensions with Beijing.
China has tried to portray itself as neutral in the conflict and Beijing called for a ceasefire last month.
“We would like to see President Xi advocate for this point when he speaks to Putin.
“This war and its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty could end today if Russia withdrew its troops from Ukraine.
“So we hope President Xi uses this opportunity to press President Putin to cease bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals, schools, and to halt some of these atrocities that we are seeing on a daily basis.”
Rishi Sunak, who has come under pressure from senior Tories to take a tougher line on China, described the country as an “epoch-defining challenge” earlier this month.