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Jun 3, 2024, 9:35am EDT
Europe
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Semafor Signals

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy gives rare rebuke of China ahead of peace summit

Insights from Politico, Reuters, Kyiv Independent, and The Washington Post

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers opening remarks during a bilateral meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, June 3, 2024. Jam Sta Rosa/POOL
Jam Sta Rosa/POOL via Reuters
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The News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused China of trying to sabotage a planned peace summit in Switzerland on June 15-16, designed to act as a forum for discussing endgames for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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In a news conference Sunday, Zelenskyy claimed Russia was using China as a proxy “to disrupt the peace summit,” and said China had tried to discourage other countries from attending, but did not detail which countries or what China had allegedly done.

China’s foreign ministry said it maintains a neutral stance, and on Friday, China signaled it would not attend the peace summit. More than 100 countries plan to attend the summit, the Kyiv Independent noted, and it’s hoped they will develop a peace plan that calls for the total withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Russia has not been invited to attend the talks.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Comments offer a rare criticism of Beijing

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Source:  
Politico

Zelenskyy had shied away from criticizing Beijing directly, instead putting his effort into attempting to woo Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But the Ukrainian president may have reached his limit. He has alleged that intelligence shows China has provided material support to Russia, despite Xi’s promises to the contrary. Broadly, interactions between Beijing and Kyiv have faltered: “Many times we have wanted to meet Chinese representatives,” Zelenskyy said on Sunday. “Unfortunately Ukraine does not have any powerful connections with China because China does not want it.”

Zelenskyy looks to the rest of Asia for support

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Source:  
The Washington Post

The Ukrainian president made his remarks on China during a surprise trip to Singapore, seemingly in an attempt to gin up regional support ahead of the peace conference. Zelenskyy has a track record of success in gaining support from Western governments for weapons and other aid, but in Asia, he is angling for diplomatic help, foreign affairs columnist Ishaan Tharoor noted in The Washington Post. Zelenskyy likely faces an uphill battle in convincing Asian states to rally for Ukraine, Tharoor argued. “Ukraine’s cause has failed to generate in Asia the same sort of emotional, existential angst that it has in much of the West.”

China will be missed at peace summit

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Sources:  
Reuters, Kyiv Independent

Beijing had previously rejected an invitation to attend the summit, arguing that the terms it required had not been met. It wanted both Ukraine and Russia to recognize the summit, and wanted all proposals to be given equal consideration, Reuters reported. Russia has not been invited to attend the talks. “China has always insisted that an international peace conference should be endorsed by both Russia and Ukraine,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said. That position is unchanged, and China will be notably absent from whatever resolution might come out of the summit. Beijing, which has a “no-limits” partnership with Moscow, had called for equal participation in the summit and declined the invite because Russia was not invited.

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