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China’s premier on Friday called the situation in Ukraine “grave" and offered Beijing’s help in playing a “positive role" for peace while continuing to refuse to criticize Russia.

Li Keqiang told reporters at an annual news conference that “we support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis."

Li Keqiang also announced his retirement as a premier, "this is the last year I will be premier".

“The pressing task now is to prevent tension from escalating or even getting out of control," Li said.

China has largely sided with Russia in the conflict, which it has refused to refer to as a war or invasion. The U.S. accuses Beijing of helping spread false news and disinformation coming out of Moscow.



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