Peace summit is best way to end Ukraine war: Zelenskiy

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to the Shangri-La Dialogue summit.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise visit to the Shangri-La Dialogue summit.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy has told the Shangri-La Dialogue that diplomacy – in the form of a peace summit later this month – is the best way to end a “cruel war” that has killed thousands in his country since 2022.

In an address at the security conference in Singapore, Zelenskiy said 106 countries and organisations had signed on for the peace summit in Switzerland, but noted it was disappointing that some world leaders had not yet offered their support.

Russia was trying to disrupt the peace efforts, he said.

“We are convinced that our world wants to be united and be capable of acting in complete harmony,” Zelenskiy said.

He later told a news conference that he was not able to meet the Chinese delegation at the conference and was disappointed that Beijing would not attend the summit.

“China, unfortunately … is working for countries not to come to the peace summit,” he said.

In an address to delegates on Sunday, Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun said his country had been careful not to support either Russia or Ukraine.

“On the Ukraine crisis, China has been promoting peace talks with a responsible attitude,” Dong said.

“We have never provided weapons to either party of the conflict. We have put strict controls on exports of dual-use items, and have never done anything to fan the flames. We stand firmly on the side of peace and dialogue.”

China's Defence Minister Dong Jun
Defence Minister Dong Jun says China has been careful not to support either Russia or Ukraine. (AP PHOTO)

Zelenskiy thanked countries, including the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, for their military assistance, particularly with air defence systems.

He cited a Russian attack on Sunday with nearly 100 missiles – something he said had happened hundreds of times – and noted “no country could handle this alone”.

Zelenskiy later said although he was grateful to the US for allowing Kyiv to use US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to fire across the Russian border in the Kharkiv region, it was not enough.

He said Russia was using many airfields to launch attacks on Ukraine “knowing that Ukraine will not fire back because it has no responding systems and no permissions”.

Zelenskiy and his defence minister, Rustem Umerov, held talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for more than an hour on Sunday on the sidelines of the conference before his speech.

Austin updated Zelenskiy on Washington’s military assistance to Kyiv and “reaffirmed the US commitment to maintaining the strong support” during the meeting, a Pentagon official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“The two leaders pledged to further strengthen the strategic defence partnership between the United States and Ukraine,” the Pentagon official said.

On the social media platform X, Zelenskiy said he had also met Indonesia’s president-elect Prabowo Subianto; a delegation from the US Congress; and the president of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta.

He said Ramos-Horta had agreed to attend the peace summit, scheduled for mid-June in Switzerland. At last year’s Shangri-La Dialogue, Prabowo had proposed an Indonesian plan for ending the war in Ukraine.

The Shangri-La Dialogue, organised by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, ends on Sunday.

Russia has not attended the security summit in Singapore since it invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Reuters