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Zelenskyy accuses China of undermining Ukraine summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media during a joint press conference with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on March 8, 2024, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images/TNS)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Beijing of working with Moscow to undermine a summit to discuss his country’s peace blueprint, in a sign of growing frustration with China’s deepening ties with Russia.

Russia is doing “everything” to disrupt the summit set for mid-June by using Chinese influence and its diplomats, Zelenskyy told reporters at the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Earlier, the Ukrainian president gave a keynote speech, appealing for Asian leaders to join the summit to help forge a path to end Russia’s war.

“We want Asia to know what’s going on in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said on Sunday. “We need the support of Asian countries. It is much needed.”

China hasn’t immediately responded to Zelenskyy’s comments.

The Ukrainian leader has stepped up his international visits since last week just as Russia built up troop formations near Ukraine’s northeast border and increased air attacks. He wants to secure support among foreign leaders, including the so-called Global South, for the June 15-16 summit.

Over 100 countries and 75 heads of state have confirmed their participation, Zelenskyy said. Switzerland has scheduled the Ukraine conference on the heels of a meeting of the Group of Seven in Borgo Egnazia, Italy.

Several G-7 leaders plan to join but President Joe Biden is not slated to be there, Bloomberg News reported, while China has signaled it won’t be attending.

The U.S. has encouraged some countries to take part in the conference while China is working against that, Zelenskyy said.

China and Brazil are calling for an international conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine to discuss proposals to halt the war, throwing up an alternative to the push by Kyiv for its own Western-backed peace plan.

Zelenskyy said Asian leaders taking part in his proposed summit will be involved in the global defense and help to foster unity against the war. The event will cover nuclear weapons, food security and the release of prisoners of war.

“After the peace summit, when the global majority agrees on the common understandings and steps, the relevant parties will pass these to Russia, aiming for an outcome similar to the grain initiative,” Zelenskyy earlier told the forum.

Zelenskyy’s rare trip to Asia comes as Russia’s invasion is in its third year. Ukraine’s economy needs all its grains and oilseeds to reach the global markets, and Zelenskyy wants to ensure the safety of the unilateral Black Sea shipping passage.

The Ukranian president called to question China’s ties with Russia, saying its support of Moscow will ensure the war in Ukraine lasts for longer.

“You cannot say that we accept sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and at the same time be on the side of the country that violates the principles of U.N. Charter,” he said of China.


© 2024 Bloomberg L.P

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