China at UN urges all parties in Ukraine crisis to exercise restraint

China's ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (right) greeting Russia's ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, next to (from left) US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Norway ambassador Mona Juul. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS, AFP) - China's Ambassador to the United Nations on Monday (Feb 21) called all parties concerned in the Ukraine crisis to exercise restraint and avoid any action that might fuel tensions, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent.

In very brief remarks at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over Ukraine, China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun also said Beijing welcomed and encouraged every effort for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"All parties concerned must exercise restraint and avoid any action that may fuel tensions. We welcome and encourage every effort for a diplomatic solution," said Mr Zhang.

Meanwhile, China's embassy in Ukraine on Tuesday (Feb 22) warned Chinese nationals and businesses in Ukraine against venturing to "unstable" areas, but stopped short of telling them to consider leaving the country as many other nations have advised their own citizens.

Accelerating a crisis the West fears could spark a war, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine to "keep the peace" after recognising them as independent.

"At present, the situation in eastern Ukraine has undergone major changes," the Chinese embassy said in a statement on its website.

"The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine reminds Chinese citizens and Chinese-funded enterprises in Ukraine to pay attention to the safety notices issued locally and do not go to unstable areas."

Earlier this month, countries including the United States, Britain and Germany told their nationals to leave Ukraine on concerns of an impending invasion by Russia.

In contrast, China has told its citizens in Ukraine to closely follow local developments, and kept its embassy in Ukraine operating normally, while criticising the United States for "hyping up" the threat of war.

Russia denies any plan to attack Ukraine but has threatened unspecified "military-technical" action unless it receives sweeping security guarantees, including a promise that its neighbour will never join Nato.

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