The Hamilton Spectator
Japan’s PM offers Ukraine support as China backs Russia
‘It looks like the West intends to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian’
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a surprise visit Tuesday to Kyiv, engaging in duelling diplomacy with Asian rival President Xi Jinping of China, who met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to promote Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine that Western nations have all but dismissed as a non-starter.
The two visits, about 800 kilometres apart, highlighted how countries are lining up behind Moscow or Kyiv during the nearly 13-month-old war. Kishida, who will chair the Group of Seven summit in May, became the group’s last member to visit Ukraine and meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after paying tribute to those killed in Bucha, a town that became a symbol of Russian atrocities against civilians.
Xi and Putin announced no major progress toward implementing the Chinese peace deal, although the Russian leader said it could be a basis for ending the fighting when the West is ready. He added that Kyiv’s Western allies have shown no interest in that.
U.S. officials have said any peace plan coming from the Putin-Xi meeting would be unacceptable because a ceasefire would only ratify Moscow’s territorial conquests and give Russia time to plan for a renewed offensive.
“It looks like the West indeed intends to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian,” Putin said, adding the latest threat is a British plan to give Ukraine tank rounds containing depleted uranium.
“If that happens, Russia will respond accordingly, given that the collective West is starting to use weapons with a nuclear component,” he said, without elaborating.
Putin has occasionally warned that Russia would use all available means, including possibly nuclear weapons, to defend itself, but also has sometimes backed off such threats.
Putin’s comment referred to remarks Monday by U.K junior Defence Minister Annabel Goldie, who wrote: “Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition, including armour-piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium. Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the plan shows that the British “have lost the bearings,” and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said “it marked another step, and there aren’t so many of them left.”
But weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of Britain’s Royal Tank Regiment, said it was “reckless” of Putin “to try and suggest Britain is sending nuclear material” to Ukraine. He said depleted uranium is a common component of tank rounds, possibly even used by Russia.
“Putin insinuating that they are some sort of nuclear weapon is bonkers,” he told The Associated Press. “Depleted uranium is completely inert. There is no way that you could create a nuclear reaction or a nuclear explosion with depleted uranium.”