Ahead of a summit between the Russian and Chinese presidents, Washington said it feared it would backfire on escalation with Beijing, while Ukraine expressed openness to a Chinese role to end Russia's more than year-old war.

NBC reported, citing U.S. officials, that the White House has sought in recent weeks to calm its rhetoric about the possibility of China supplying weapons to Russia in the Ukraine war.

The officials said the change in tone was aimed at reducing rising tensions, especially ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

A U.S. official said the White House feared its harsh rhetoric toward China on the issue would backfire right now, prompting Xi to send weapons to Russia rather than deter him.

Ahead of the upcoming summit in Moscow between the Chinese and Russian presidents, Moscow said the talks would cover arms supplies and the conflict in Ukraine.

The Pentagon on Friday renewed its warning against any military support for Russia, noting that Washington has not yet seen China provide any kind of lethal assistance to Russia to use on the battlefield of Ukraine.

Kuleba said he discussed with his Chinese counterpart the importance of the principle of territorial integrity

Chinese role on condition

Kiev has expressed openness to a Chinese role, but stressed the need to respect its territorial integrity.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed with his Chinese counterpart Chen Zhang the principles on the basis of which peace can be restored in Ukraine.

Kuleba tweeted that he had discussed with his Chinese counterpart the importance of the principle of territorial integrity.

The Ukrainian minister stressed the importance of the peace formula drawn up by President Volodymyr Zelensky to end what he described as aggression and restore a just peace in the country.

Kiev has not accepted the Chinese plan because it does not call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory, and Western countries have questioned that Beijing will be a mediator to end the war.

Difficult situation

Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said China would be in a difficult position if Xi met Putin after the ICC issued two arrest warrants for the latter.

On Monday, the Chinese president begins a 3-day state visit to Russia, the first since the start of the war on Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and Moscow and Beijing made it clear that the talks will focus on strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.

At the same time, China's Foreign Ministry said one of the goals of Xi's visit to Russia was to "promote peace" without explicitly referring to Beijing's recently presented plan to resolve the Ukraine crisis peacefully.

Hold your fire

In Washington, National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said his country would not support the ceasefire China will demand at the upcoming Xi-Putin summit because it would serve Russia.

Kirby added that he hopes that the Chinese president will communicate directly with his counterpart, the Ukrainian president, to hear from him, and not just the Russian president's point of view.

The US official stressed that the ceasefire in Ukraine at the present time will not lead to a just peace, and that the United States wants the conflict to end in a way that preserves Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Kirby accused Russia of wanting to use any ceasefire to bolster its forces and control more of Ukraine's territory.

Commenting on the Chinese president's visit to Moscow, a Pentagon spokesman said his country was closely monitoring the visit, adding that Washington hoped the Chinese president and his government would benefit from their support for Russia to influence it.

CNN quoted US officials as saying that Washington was working to arrange a phone call between the Chinese president and his Ukrainian counterpart.