Saturday, June 22, 2024

Zelensky claims China is ‘Putin’s tool’

China is acting as an “instrument” of Russia by pressing other nations to shun an upcoming “peace summit” on the Ukraine conflict, President Volodymyr Zelensky has alleged. The Ukrainian leader also accused Beijing of providing military support to Moscow, without giving specific evidence.

Zelensky fired a rare diplomatic broadside at Beijing on Sunday following his surprise appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security conference organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore.

“Russia, using Chinese influence on the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit,” Zelensky claimed at a press conference, referring to Swiss-hosted talks on the Ukraine conflict that are planned for later in June.

“It is unfortunate that such a big, independent, powerful country as China is an instrument in the hands of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” the Ukrainian leader added.

He also made vague allegations that China is providing Russia with military assistance, despite Beijing insisting this is not the case. Zelensky claimed to have “intelligence that somehow, some way, some things come to Russia’s markets via China”, asserting that unspecified “elements of Russia’s weaponry come from China”.

“We do not expect military support from China. We have never asked them,” the Ukrainian leader stated.

“But we do not expect China to provide defense support to Russia.”

The remarks came shortly after Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun reiterated Beijing’s neutral stance on the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, stating Beijing stands “firmly on the side of peace and dialogue.”

China “has not provided weapons to either side, and has strict control over exports of dual-use goods”, Dong said during his speech at the Shangri-La conference earlier in the day.

The Ukrainian-sponsored “peace conference” in Switzerland is set to take place on June 15–16 at the Burgenstock Resort near Lucerne. While more than 160 countries have been invited, many have reportedly opted to abstain or send minor officials.

Moscow has been excluded from the event, with Kiev arguing it would have attempted to derail the talks. This week, Beijing said it would not be sending a delegation for the summit, arguing that both parties to the conflict must be present at any peace talks.

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