Russia-Ukraine war live: Xi and Zelenskiy hold talks; Russian aircraft ‘intercepted in international airspace’

The US has welcomed the phone call between the Ukrainian president and his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday.

“We think that’s a good thing,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“Now, whether that’s going to lead to some sort of meaningful peace movement or plan or proposal, I just don’t think we know that right now.

“We have long said we want this war to end,” he said, adding that it could end “immediately” if Russia would pull its troops out of Ukraine.

“If there’s going to be a negotiated peace, it’s got to (be) when president Zelensky is ready for it … where he can do it from a position of strength

“We certainly would welcome any effort to arrive at a just peace, as long as that peace could be just, could be sustainable, and could be credible.

“And in our view, it’s not going to be sustainable or credible unless the Ukrainians and president Zelensky personally is invested in it and supportive of it.”

The Guardian’s central and eastern European correspondent Shaun Walker has asked the question on whether Russia is carrying out more espionage activity or whether their agents are just being caught more often.

Since Russia launched its full-scale war in Ukraine last February, hardly a week goes by without news of Russian spies, agents or informants being unmasked somewhere in the world.

A security guard at the British embassy in Berlin, sentenced to 13 years in prison. An alleged mole inside Germany’s intelligence service, suspected of passing information to Moscow. Nine people arrested in Poland accused of tracking weapons deliveries to Ukraine and planning acts of sabotage.

Just last week, US authorities issued an indictment against four US citizens and three Russians accused of carrying out “a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States” on behalf of Russian intelligence. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps most eye-catching has been the arrest of several alleged “illegals” – deep-cover, elite Russian spies trained to adopt foreign identities to embed into western societies and steal secrets.