The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded an explanation from the Chinese authorities after a group of Chinese bloggers visited occupied Crimea and Mariupol. The trip was organized by the Kremlin-controlled media group Russia Today.
On September 7, the Russian-appointed “head” of the so-called “DPR” Denis Pushilin published a post about the visit of “Chinese guests” to Mariupol. He posted a video of opera singer Wang-Fan singing “Katyusha” in the ruins of a drama theater destroyed by the Russian army in Mariupol.
On March 16, 2022, Russian troops dropped a bomb on the theater building. Hundreds of people, including children, were sheltering inside. The Mariupol city council said about 300 people were killed, and an Associated Press investigation found that the total number of victims inside and outside could be about 600. The exact number of deaths is impossible to determine.
Speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleg Nikolenko called the performance of a Chinese opera singer with “Katyusha” on the ruins of the Mariupol Drama Theater “an example of complete moral degradation.” Nikolenko also reported that a group of Chinese bloggers visited Mariupol, and emphasized the illegality of their presence in the Russian-occupied city. “Ukraine respects the territorial integrity of China and expects from the Chinese side an explanation of the purpose of the presence of Chinese citizens in Mariupol, as well as the route for their entry into the temporarily occupied Ukrainian city,” Nikolenko wrote.
China has been repeatedly accused of supporting Russia during the war. Thus, in March 2023, The New York Times wrote that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, China has exported drones and their parts to Russia worth $12 million. Despite this, in April 2023, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky spoke with the leader for the first time since the beginning of the war China by Xi Jinping. After an hour-long telephone conversation, the press secretary of the Ukrainian president, Sergei Nikiforov, said that Beijing and Kyiv had found “intersection points” between the Ukrainian and Chinese peace plans. Does this mean that China will help end the war in Ukraine? Alexander Khara, a diplomat and expert at the Center for Defense Strategies, told Present Time.