Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping by phone


  • A Ukrainian military expert has grew suspicious over the timing of China's call to Zelensky
  • Oleksandr Musiyenko suggested Russia may have contacted China before Zelensky's call
  • Zelensky expressed confidence for Ukraine-China bilateral ties after Xi's phone call

A Ukrainian military expert weighed in on the recent phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Oleksandr Musiyenko, the head of the Kyiv-based Centre for Military and Legal Studies, told CNBC that he finds China's timing to call the Ukrainian president suspicious.

"I was confident that China would wait for the results of Ukrainian counteroffensive and would then probably propose something [on a cease-fire and peace talks]," Musiyenko said.

Musiyenko suggested that Russia might have contacted China, its close ally, to help with negotiations.

"I think they asked Xi to call Zelensky to ask him to stop this counteroffensive," the expert said.

Max Hess, a fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, also assessed the phone call between Zelensky and Xi, explaining that China wanted to immediately mediate between the two warring nations before a Ukrainian counteroffensive could start.

On Wednesday, Xi and Zelensky held their first phone call since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago.

The Ukrainian leader expressed confidence that his conversation with his Chinese counterpart "will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations."

According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Xi told Zelensky that "talks and negotiation" were the only way to end the ongoing conflict.

Xi insisted that China remains neutral to the conflict, saying the country "will neither watch the fire from the other side, nor add fuel to the fire, let alone take advantage of the crisis to profit."

China has also announced it would send a delegation and a "special representative" to Ukraine to find a "political settlement" to the war.

In February, China published its 12-point document, which calls for a political solution to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

China calls for respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, cessation of hostilities and resuming diplomatic talks between the two countries.

Xi had also pitched his proposed peace plan to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his three-day state visit to Russia in March.

Putin welcomed Xi's aim for China to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, saying the proposal could be a basis for a peace settlement.

However, the Russian leader accused Ukraine and its Western allies of being uninterested in holding peace talks.

The U.S., one of Ukraine's closest allies throughout its war, has expressed skepticism over China's plan to become a peace broker, arguing that Chinese officials refused to condemn Russia.

China's President Xi Jinping visited Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month