China calls for Russia-Ukraine ceasefire over ‘grave’ conflict

The situation in Ukraine is grave and China is deeply concerned, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday, as confrontations between Russia and the West persisted with no sign of easing.

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital, damaged by shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. Photo: AP

Doubling down on an invasion that the West says has been losing momentum, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light for thousands of volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine.

The move, just over two weeks since Putin ordered the invasion, allows Russia to deploy battle-hardened mercenaries from conflicts such as Syria without risking additional Russian military casualties.

At a meeting of Russia’s Security Council, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in the breakaway Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.


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