Zelenskyj accuses China of helping Russia disrupt the peace summit

SINGAPORE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday accused China of helping Russia disrupt an upcoming peace summit by pressuring other countries to not attend.

The peace talks, which is able to address the Russia-Ukraine conflict that began in February 2022, are scheduled to happen on June 15 and 16 on the Bürgenstock Resort in Switzerland.

Speaking on the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Zelensky said Russia was using Chinese influence in Asia to disrupt the summit.

“Unfortunately, Russia, with the help of Chinese influence in the region and Chinese diplomats, is doing everything to disrupt the peace summit,” he said, in line with a translation of his remarks, but didn’t give any specific examples.

“It is regrettable that such a large, independent and powerful country as China is an instrument in [the] hands off [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” he added. CNBC has contacted the Chinese embassy in Singapore for comment.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has already announced that it will not participate in the peace conference. because it does not meet his expectations. Moscow, on the other hand, was not invited to the conference and cancelled it.

Zelensky also accused Russia of threatening other countries with blockades of goods such as agricultural exports, chemical products and high energy prices. CNBC has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Call to Asian countries

In his plenary speech, the Ukrainian president said the summit in Switzerland would focus on three points of Ukraine's 10-point peace plan, first announced in November 2022.

According to him, the focus of the summit would be nuclear safety, food security and the return of Ukrainian children abducted from Russia.

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“Time is running out,” he said. “Children are growing up in Putin's country, where they’re taught to hate their homeland and where they’re told they haven’t any family while their family members are waiting for them at home.”

Although Zelensky said that 106 countries would send at least high-level representatives to the summit, he also expressed his disappointment that some heads of state and government would not attend.

What is particularly notable is that the US has not yet confirmed whether President Joe Biden will attend, although Zelensky said the US had confirmed its participation “at a high level.”

At a press conference after his speech, the Ukrainian president reiterated that he wanted the support of Asian countries. “It is urgently needed… Every country in your region, we would like Asia to know what is occurring in Ukraine. We want Asia to support the top of the war.”

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Specifically regarding Singapore, Zelensky said he would meet with both Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and expressed his wish that the Singaporean leader would support Ukraine by personally attending the summit.

He said Ukraine had never asked Asian countries to provide military support, but asked for political and humanitarian support, as well as support for the Ukrainian civilian population.

“All this has turn into the idea of our peace formula and has evolved into the worldwide peace summit. This is how every leader and each country can show their commitment to peace,” he said.

“The global majority can ensure through its commitment that what has been agreed is definitely implemented. And that Russia, which began this cruel war, cannot deter us from our path to ending the war.”

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