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Shangri-La Dialogue: Zelensky says ‘China’s support for Russia’ will prolong Ukraine war in surprise appearance in Asia


China’s support for Russia will prolong the war in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday, calling on countries in the Asia-Pacific region to join the next peace summit that he accuses Russia of trying to thwart. .

Zelensky made the comments in Singapore during a surprise appearance at a meeting of defense chiefs from across the Asia-Pacific region, including China and the United States. It precedes the international peace conference on Ukraine which is to be held on June 15 and 16 in Switzerland.

“With China’s support for Russia, the war will last longer. This is bad for the whole world and for the policies of China – which says it supports territorial integrity and sovereignty and officially declares it. For them it is not good,” Zelensky said at a press conference.

China claims neutrality in the conflict and has declared itself a supporter of peace, even as it has become a key economic lifeline and strengthened its already close strategic and diplomatic partnership with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The United States has also claimed that Chinese exports of dual-use goods to Russia fuel the war-torn country’s defense industrial base and warned Beijing of the consequences of such support – a claim that Beijing has refuted, saying that that it had not supplied arms to either side and that it maintained export controls on dual-use goods.

Zelensky hinted at such support in his comments Sunday, saying that some elements that make up part of Russia’s weaponry “come from China.”

The Ukrainian leader also warned that Russia was trying to pressure countries not to attend the upcoming international peace summit – with help from China.

“Russia is trying to disrupt the peace summit and it is true… (Russia) is now traveling around many countries of the world threatening them with blockades of agricultural products, food products, chemicals… it “just pushes other countries in the world so that they are not present at the summit,” Zelensky said after giving a speech at the defense conference.

Asked later about China’s statement that it would not attend the peace summit, the Ukrainian leader accused Russia of using Chinese diplomats to disrupt it.

“Unfortunately, it is regrettable that such a large and powerful and independent country as China is a tool in the hands of Putin,” Zelensky said, speaking through an interpreter.

The Ukrainian leader added that he had not had any meetings with Chinese representatives in Singapore, despite the Ukrainian side’s interest in more dialogue.

China said last week it would not send a delegation to the peace summit, saying any international peace conference should have “recognition by Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties and a fair discussion on all peace plans.”

Chinese National Defense Minister Dong Jun said in a speech on Sunday that China had “promoted peace talks with a responsible attitude.”

Dong also appeared to respond to U.S. allegations that China was bolstering Russia’s defense industrial base with exports of dual-use goods, saying in his remarks that China had not supplied weapons to either side of the conflict and had put in place “stricter controls” on exports of dual-use goods.

U.S. Defense Chief Lloyd Austin discussed the deals with Dong in a sideline meeting Friday, during which he warned of the consequences of any Chinese support for the Russian military.

Asked about Zelensky’s comments at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson defended China’s trade with Russia as “impeccable,” adding that he did not was “certainly not against the peace summit” and that there was “no pressure”. on other countries.

“We also attach great importance to our relations with Ukraine…China and Ukraine have maintained communication and cooperation since the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis,” spokesman Mao Ning said.

Ukrainian leader’s in-person call for the Shangri-La Dialogue comes as Ukrainian troops struggle to repel a major Russian advance in the northeastern Kharkiv region amid shortages of weapons and manpower. work, more than two years after the Russian invasion. strengthen international support for his peace plan.

Zelensky’s plan calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. The Ukrainian leader has previously said he will not negotiate with Russia until its forces withdraw.

“Time is running out,” including for Ukrainian children taken by Russia, Zelensky told a packed audience in a speech on the closing day of the three-day security meeting.

The summit, he said, would address three points of his peace formula, including “nuclear security, food security and the release of prisoners of war”, as well as “Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia”, and would allow countries to reach consensus. on peace in Ukraine which could be “transmitted to Russia”.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague last year issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over an alleged plan to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

Russia has called the peace conference a “hoax” engineered by the United States, with a Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying last week that the “real ‘peace formula'” was for Western countries to stop supply weapons to Ukraine.

So far, more than 100 countries and international organizations have pledged to join the gathering, Zelensky said.

The upcoming peace summit and Ukraine’s defense were also key topics for Zelensky in his sideline meetings since arriving in Singapore on Saturday.

Those talks included meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Austin, Indonesian President-elect Prabowo Subianto and Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta, as well as a delegation of U.S. lawmakers.

During his meeting with Zelensky on Sunday morning, Austin reiterated “the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression” and provided an update on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, according to a statement from Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder after the attack. meeting.

Zelensky said in a Twitter post that the two sides discussed “our country’s defense needs, strengthening Ukraine’s air defense system, the F-16 coalition and drafting a peace agreement.” bilateral security”.

He also thanked US President Joe Biden for “an important decision” regarding defensive strikes with US weapons, referring to the White House’s decision, reported by CNN, to allow Ukraine to use US munitions to limited strikes on Russian territory.

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