Ukraine: Ex-MI6 chief says only China can influence Putin to end war

Ex-MI6 chief says only China can influence Putin to end war in Ukraine

Sir Alex Younger said Putin was “obsessed with achieving greatness” by restoring his country’s empire (Images: Getty/Rex)

Only Chinese President Xi Jinping can “reason reason” with Vladimir Putin and persuade him to end his invasion of Ukraine, the former head of MI6 has said.

As Russian forces continue to blow up Kyiv and other major cities, Sir Alex Younger said Putin is “obsessed with achieving greatness” by restoring his country’s empire.

He hinted that the Chinese leader will be “disturbed” by events in Eastern Europe and may be able to “influence” his counterpart and ally.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Alex said: “Of all the people in the world who can influence Vladimir Putin, who is in his bunker and obsessed with achieving greatness by restoring the Russian Empire… of all the people who can reason with him, it’s Xi (Jinping, the Chinese leader).

“Vladimir Putin needs Xi and of course, while Xi feels he needs to coordinate at a high level with what Russia is doing about their new alliance, Xi must be deeply concerned about what is going on.”

He added that the situation in Ukraine “seriously aggravates the economic problems facing China” and poses a “huge reputational risk” if they continue to associate themselves with the “murderous activities in Ukraine.”


Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to meet in Beijing in February (Image: AP)

The former intelligence officer added: “Putin has no reverse gear. He has played.

“He got into extraordinary trouble early on but he’s going to keep going and he needs to do it because he went into this war with a false premise and he needs to be seen to bring some of that back.”

Russia-Ukraine War: Everything You Need to Know

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the country has suffered widespread damage and loss of life in a major bombing campaign.

Over 3 million people have fled as Ukrainian cities face food, water, heat and medicine shortages – and thousands of Britons open their homes to Ukrainian refugees.

Countries have retaliated by imposing sanctions on Russia and oligarchs like Roman Abramovich, while big companies like Disney, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have shut down operations in the country.

Despite these economic blows, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no signs of calling off the attack anytime soon.

China has so far refused to criticize Russia for its invasion or even call it a “war.”

Earlier this week Beijing said its stance on the Ukraine conflict was “entirely objective, impartial and constructive”.

The Kremlin has also denied reports that Chinese military equipment has been requested for use in the conflict.

On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated claims that China was “deeply saddened” by “the situation” and said it was determined to promote peace talks.

He added: “China’s position and statement on the Ukraine issue is fully objective, impartial and constructive.

“We have a clear goal, namely to de-escalate the situation and end the conflict as quickly as possible.”

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Justin Scacco

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