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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky accuses China of 'working hard' to stop countries attending global peace summit

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 2, 2024 9:58 PM 7 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue summit at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on June 2, 2024. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on June 2:

  • Zelensky accuses China of 'working hard' to stop countries attending global peace summit
  • Zelensky urges US to allow Ukraine to strike Russia with ATACMS missiles
  • Russia claims capture of Umanske village in Donetsk Oblast
  • Ukrainian navy denies Russian claims of destroyed vessels

Zelensky has accused China of "working hard" to prevent countries from attending Ukraine's global peace summit later this month.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on June 2, Zelensky also expressed disappointment that "some world leaders" would not be present at the event to be held in Switzerland on June 15-16.

Ukraine hopes the summit will address several key areas, such as energy security, the exchange of captives, the return of deported children, global food security, and other topics.

"China, unfortunately, is working hard today to prevent countries from coming to the peace summit," Zelensky said on June 2.

While he said more than 100 countries and international organizations were set to attend, Bloomberg reported on May 23 that Biden is likely to miss the peace conference as it clashes with a campaign fundraiser.

China is also reported to have declined an invitation as the terms they required to attend were not met, Reuters reported on May 31, citing several sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

One source said China had insisted the summit should be recognised by both Russia and Ukraine and both countries should participate.

Publicly, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that attending would be "difficult."

"The arrangement of the meeting still falls short of China's requirements and the expectations of the international community, making it difficult for China to attend," said Mao Ning, the ministry's spokesperson.

"We are very sorry that the Chinese side does not use the opportunity to present its position on the platform of the summit in Switzerland," a spokesperson of the Ukrainian embassy in Beijing told Reuters.

Russia was not invited to the talks, but the Swiss hosts said that Moscow's representatives will have to take part in the process "sooner or later."

Kyiv has warned that Russia is attempting to disrupt the summit.

Speaking on May 16 at a press conference during Russian President Vladimir Putin's two-day visit to China, Chinese President Xi Jinping claimed both leaders agreed that a "political solution" to the war in Ukraine is "the correct direction."

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Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a clear signal to the West last week: China stands firmly behind Russia. Putin made his first foreign trip since his inauguration to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping on May 16. The visit came after a cabinet reshuffle in Russia the week prior,

Zelensky urges US to allow Ukraine to strike Russia with ATACMS missiles

President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 2 said the U.S. should allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia with long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles to protect lives.

Zelensky’s statement comes shortly after the White House confirmed that it lifted the ban on the use of some U.S. weapons by Ukraine against Russian territory near Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts.

Washington still prohibits Ukraine from using ATACMS and other long-range U.S.-supplied weapons for strikes deeper inside Russia, U.S. officials said.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, Zelensky thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for the permission but insisted that restrictions – including the ban on the use of ATACMS – should be lifted.

“Is that sufficient? No. Why? Because I have given you the example of airfields from which Russia is permanently firing, in calm, knowing that Ukraine will not fire back because it has no corresponding systems and no permissions,” Zelensky said, as cited by The Telegraph, in reaction to Washington’s decision.

Zelensky said Kyiv was waiting for the approval to strike Russian military airfields, the staging grounds for attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. He added that Russia has about 300 weapon systems – loaded with tens of thousands of missiles – deployed on its side of the border to attack Ukraine, The Telegraph reported.

“So they have these weapons there, and they do not remove them because they know that Ukraine cannot target them with Western weaponry even if they fire against us,” Zelensky said.

The topic of the Western allies’ ban on Ukraine attacking Russia using their weapons has gained wide attention after Moscow opened a new front in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast in May, where it was able to ready for an operation without significant Ukrainian cross-border threats.

Amid growing calls from Western leaders to allow Ukraine to use foreign-supplied arms to hit targets in Russia, there have been reports in recent days that the U.S. has changed its policy.

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 31 that the U.S. had allowed Ukraine to use HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, GMLRS rockets, and artillery against Russian territory.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hinted that Washington may allow Ukraine to hit targets beyond the current limitation in the future." Going forward, we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust," he said at a press conference in Prague on May 31.

‘Very good’ meeting with US defense secretary in Singapore, Zelensky says
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had a “very good” meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on June 2.

Russia claims capture of Umanske village in Donetsk Oblast

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed on June 2 that its forces captured the village of Umanske in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast.

In its daily situation report on June 2, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces did not mention Umanske but did say Russian forces were "trying to advance" in the direction of Sokil, a village around 10 kilometers to the north.

"Two attacks have been repelled, three more are in progress," the post on Facebook said, adding: "The situation remains tense. Defense forces are taking measures to stabilize the frontline."

The Kyiv Independent could not verify the reports.

Umanske is located in the Pokrovsky district of the Donetsk region, approximately 30 kilometers northwest of occupied Donetsk.

But according to the crowd-sourced DeepState monitoring site, Umanske fell to Russian forces on May 26. This information could not be verified.

The Russian independent news outlet Meduza, when reporting the Kremlin Defense Ministry's comments on June 2, said according to its own data. "Russian troops captured Umanske no later than May 9."

"It is unclear why the department announced the seizure of the village only now," Meduza added.

Russia's Defense Minister Andrei Belousov said on May 31 that Moscow's forces had seized 880 square kilometers (340 square miles) of Ukrainian territory in 2024.

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Ukrainian navy denies Russian claims of destroyed vessels

Ukraine's navy has denied Russian claims of having destroyed Ukrainian ships and boats in a recent attack on southern regions of the country.

The June 2 statement comes a few days after the Russian defense ministry claimed to have destroyed four Ukrainian unmanned boats in the northwestern part of the Black Sea on May 30.

"Under the guise of trying to hit the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, the Russian Federation once again struck civilian targets, damaging port infrastructure," the navy said in a Facebook post.

"Russia continues to do everything possible to block sea routes to Ukrainian ports."

Throughout Russia's full-scale invasion, Russian authorities have claimed to have targeted military facilities each time they launched attacks against civilians in Ukraine.

The Black Sea has been a major front of the full-scale war, where Ukraine has had to significantly cut down its exports via its pre-war main trade route due to Russian threats and attacks against civilian port infrastructure.

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