In Meeting With Xi, E.U. Leader Takes Tough Line on Ukraine War

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, put pressure Monday on China to help resolve the war in Ukraine, saying Beijing should “use all its influence on Russia to end its war of aggression against Ukraine.”

She spoke after accompanying President Emmanuel Macron of France in a meeting with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, who began his first visit to Europe in five years on Sunday. Ms. von der Leyen has persistently taken a stronger line toward China than has Mr. Macron.

With President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia again suggesting he might be prepared to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine, she said Mr. Xi had played “an important role in de-escalating Russia’s irresponsible nuclear threats.” She was confident, Ms. von der Leyen said, that Mr. Xi would “continue to do so against the backdrop of ongoing nuclear threats by Russia.”

Whether her appeal would have any impact on Mr. Xi was unclear, and describing the conflict as Russia’s “war of aggression” in Ukraine seemed likely to irk the Chinese leader. Beijing has forged a “no limits” friendship with Russia and provided Moscow with critical support for its military effort, including jet fighter parts, microchips and other dual-use equipment.

“More effort is needed to curtail delivery of dual-use goods to Russia that find their way to the battlefield,” Ms. von der Leyen said of China. “And given the existential nature of the threats stemming from this war for both Ukraine and Europe, this does affect E.U.-China relations.”

It is relatively unusual for a top European official to describe the war in Ukraine as an “existential threat” to the European continent. Doing so may reflect Mr. Putin’s renewed talk of the use of nuclear weapons.

Back to top button