China should be judged by its actions, not words, German defence minister says

FILE PHOTO: Annual Munich Security Conference

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on Sunday reacted with scepticism to a Chinese ceasefire proposal for the war in Ukraine.

"When I hear reports - and I don't know whether they are true - according to which China may be planning to supply kamikaze drones to Russia while at the same time presenting a peace plan, then I suggest we judge China by its actions and not its words," he told German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview.

Pistorius was echoing comments by NATO and the European Commission who both raised doubts on Friday about Beijing's credibility as a mediator after it published a ceasefire proposal.

Beijing offered the proposal on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed some elements of the Chinese proposal but said only the country where a war is being fought should be the initiator of a peace plan.

Pistorius underlined it was up to Kyiv to decide when and under what conditions to enter talks with Moscow, and he suggested the same was true for any decision on recapturing the Crimea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"I am leaning towards saying, yes, Crimea is Ukrainian territory and it therefore has to be given back," he said in the interview. "But again: This is not a decision that's up to us to take."

Zelenskiy says his troops will eventually drive Russia from all the captured territory, including the Crimea peninsula.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Tom Sims and Frances Kerry)