The United States and allies supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion have seemingly given up on negotiations to end the war. Their weapons shipments and ever-tougher sanctions are aimed at militarily and economically bringing Moscow to its knees. Beijing has instead advocated a diplomatic solution, as was again demonstrated during President Xi Jinping’s latest phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The Chinese approach is feasible, sensible and humane; talks that lead to a negotiated settlement will end the conflict sooner than one that prolongs the fighting and causes greater bloodshed and misery. Chinese officials have consistently called for talks between Kyiv and Moscow and for other governments to play a constructive role in bringing the sides together. In their second phone conversation since Russia invaded on February 24, Xi told Putin that all sides should “promote a proper solution to the crisis in a responsible manner”. But shortly after that, American leader Joe Biden announced another US$1 billion in weapons and support for Ukraine. The package includes howitzers and ammunition, rockets and funds for training. Such backing, in addition to arms and equipment from Britain, France and Germany among other countries, prompted Moscow’s United Nations ambassador to accuse Western governments of “fighting a proxy war with Russia”. Ukraine war ‘could take years’, Nato chief warns Washington and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners want to avoid direct confrontation with Russia and their strategy centres on military and financial support for Kyiv. With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urging faster deliveries to push Russian troops out of captured territory, their efforts amount to de facto participation. The solidarity shown on a joint visit to Kyiv by the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania and a signalling during talks to back candidate membership for Ukraine in the European Union only raises tensions between Moscow and the West. China and Russia have forged close ties, described in a statement after a summit between Xi and Putin in February as a friendship with “no limits”. That partnership, and Beijing’s refusal to criticise Moscow’s invasion, has led to Western accusations of Chinese support for Russia. But while Sino-Russian trade has been rising, particularly in the energy sector, the increases in volume are the result of previously signed bilateral agreements. As opposed to Washington’s strategy of building alliances to push a cold war-like agenda, Beijing has acted independently. The longer the war lasts, the greater the suffering of Ukrainians and the strain on global food and energy supplies. Efforts to de-escalate the crisis through dialogue are the most viable solution.