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Ukraine is "deeply concerned" about joint naval exercises that Russia, China, and South Africa launched just ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's all-out war, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said on Feb. 24.
"We are deeply disappointed that at a time when the international community condemns Russian aggression, African countries in particular, and strengthens the isolation of Russia to end the war, the South African authorities are borrowing the experience of the Russian war machine," Nikolenko said in a statement published by Foreign Ministry.
According to Nikolenko, a Russian frigate marked with the symbols "Z" and "V," under which "the Russian army is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine," is taking part in the exercises held off the South African coast.
The naval drills are taking place amid U.S. concerns that China is examing possibilities on whether to supply weapons to support Russia's war in Ukraine.
German news outlet Der Spiegel reported on Feb. 23 that Russia's military was discussing the mass production of kamikaze drones for Russia with Chinese drone manufacturers.
A day later, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin denied the allegations, saying that China "does not provide any arms sales to conflict areas or belligerents," CNN reported.
China's Foreign Ministry issued a 12-point statement on Feb. 24, outlining Beijing's position on the "political settlement" of Russia's full-scale war.
During his press conference later on the same day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as quoted by Ukrainska Pravda, that he did not consider China's proposal a peace plan. He added, though, that the document included respect for international law, which already makes it possible to work with China.
Zelensky also said that he wanted to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. "I believe that it will benefit our states and security in the world… The issue is not only the war, we are interested in preserving economic relations."
The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 21, citing people familiar with the matter, that Xi was planning to visit Moscow for a meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the coming months.