June 16, 2024

Zelensky promotes Ukraine peace summit in surprise visit to Philippines

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the Philippines on Monday to urge regional leaders to attend an upcoming Swiss-organised global peace summit on the war in Ukraine.

Arriving unannounced and under heavy security in Manila late Sunday, Zelensky was given a red carpet welcome at the presidential palace before meeting with his Philippine counterpart, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Zelensky thanked Marcos for agreeing to attend the peace summit, which will take place in central Switzerland on 15-16 June. “I’m happy to hear today from you that you’ll participate in our peace steps,” Zelensky told Marcos. “It’s a very strong signal.”

It was unclear whether the Philippine leader would attend the summit in person or send a representative.

Ahead of his arrival in the Philippines, Zelensky accused Russia of using Chinese influence in the region to help disrupt the upcoming summit by pressuring other countries and their leaders not to attend the talks.

“Russia, using Chinese influence in the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit,” he said without elaborating. “Regrettably, this is unfortunate that such a big independent powerful country as China is an instrument in the hands of (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin.”

Speaking at the Shangri-La defense forum in Singapore, Zelensky said that such actions were “in support of war”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning signaled Friday that it was unlikely that China would attend the summit.

Zelensky has said that Ukraine has proposals to make at the summit as a basis for peace, addressing nuclear security, food security, the release of prisoners of war and the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

He previously commented that the absence of leaders at the summit — including US President Joe Biden — would constitute a “standing ovation” for Putin at a press conference in Brussels.

Zelensky’s visit to Asia is his second since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. His comments against China indicate Kyiv is taking a more aggressive approach to Beijing, which it previously sought to persuade Russia to end its war in Ukraine.

During his visit to the Philippines, Zelensky also said Ukraine would open an embassy in Manila, a decision Marcos welcomed as it would facilitate more assistance to the war-ravaged nation.

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