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UKRAINE UPDATE: 3 JUNE 2024

Zelensky accuses China of undermining peace summit; Scholz ‘expects threats from Russia to continue’

Zelensky accuses China of undermining peace summit; Scholz ‘expects threats from Russia to continue’
Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, leaves the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. Senior defence officials from around the world were in Singapore for a security forum to discuss a host of fractious issues. (Photo: Ore Huiying / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Beijing of working with Moscow to undermine a summit to discuss his country’s peace blueprint, in a sign of growing frustration with China’s deepening ties with Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is convinced that Russia won’t limit its threats to European security to its war in Ukraine alone, and that diplomacy toward President Vladimir Putin will only be successful from “a position of strength”.

Vladimir Putin and “other hostile actors” were able to abuse a lack of regulation for the Telegram platform to spread fake news in the European Union’s eastern nations, a top EU commissioner warned.

Zelensky accuses China of undermining Ukraine summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Beijing of working with Moscow to undermine a summit to discuss his country’s peace blueprint, in a sign of growing frustration with China’s deepening ties with Russia.

Russia was doing “everything” to disrupt the summit set for mid-June by using Chinese influence and its diplomats, Zelensky told reporters at the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Earlier, the Ukrainian president gave a keynote speech, appealing for Asian leaders to join the summit to help forge a path to end Russia’s war.

“We want Asia to know what’s going on in Ukraine,” Zelensky said on Sunday. “We need the support of Asian countries. It is much needed.”

China hadn’t immediately responded to Zelenskiy’s comments.

The Ukrainian leader has stepped up his international visits since last week just as Russia built up troop formations near Ukraine’s northeast border and increased air attacks. He wants to secure support among foreign leaders, including the so-called Global South, for the 15-16 June summit.

More than 100 countries and 75 heads of state had confirmed their participation, Zelensky said. Switzerland has scheduled the Ukraine conference on the heels of a meeting of the Group of Seven in Borgo Egnazia, Italy.

Several G7 leaders plan to join but President Joe Biden is not slated to be there, Bloomberg News reported, while China has signalled it won’t be attending.

Read more: Zelensky implores Biden, Xi to attend summit as Russia ramps up

The US has encouraged some countries to take part in the conference while China was working against that, Zelensky said.

China and Brazil are calling for an international conference recognised by both Russia and Ukraine to discuss proposals to halt the war, throwing up an alternative to the push by Kyiv for its Western-backed peace plan.

Zelensky said Asian leaders taking part in his proposed summit would be involved in global defence and help to foster unity against the war. The event will cover nuclear weapons, food security and the release of prisoners of war.

“After the peace summit, when the global majority agrees on the common understandings and steps, the relevant parties will pass these to Russia, aiming for an outcome similar to the grain initiative,” Zelensky earlier told the forum.

Zelensky’s rare trip to Asia came as Russia’s invasion was in its third year. Ukraine’s economy needs all its grains and oilseeds to reach the global markets and Zelensky wants to ensure the safety of the unilateral Black Sea shipping passage.

The Ukrainian president called into question China’s ties with Russia, saying its support of Moscow would ensure the war in Ukraine lasted for longer.

“You cannot say that we accept sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and at the same time be on the side of the country that violates the principles of UN Charter,” he said of China.

Germany’s Scholz expects threats from Russia to continue

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is convinced that Russia won’t limit its threats to European security to its war in Ukraine alone, and that diplomacy toward President Vladimir Putin will only be successful from “a position of strength”.

“The threat from Russia will continue,” Scholz said at the East German Economic Forum in Bad Saarow, near Berlin, on Sunday, where he was also scheduled to meet Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.

The US, Germany and other allies have deployed large military units to the Baltic states in response to perceived Russian intentions, with the goal of stationing an entire brigade there permanently in future.

This is “a first” for Germany and its army, Scholz said, adding that the change in security policy was necessary to show Moscow that the Nato alliance — which has gained two new members, Finland and Sweden, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — was “prepared to defend every square inch” of its territory.

Scholz in 2022 called Russia’s war in Ukraine a “Zeitenwende,” or “historic turning point,” but has lately sent mixed messages — with European election campaign posters for his party calling for “Peace.”

Read more: Scholz preaches peace b ut defence chief prepares Germans for war

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, recently compared the invasion of Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovak territory in 1938, and said Europe should prepare for a large-scale Russian attack.

“Putin will not stop once the war against Ukraine is over,” Pistorius said in mid-April. Last week, the defence chief announced a new weapons package for Ukraine during a visit to Odesa.

Putin ‘is flooding EU with fake news on Telegram’ 

Vladimir Putin and “other hostile actors” were able to abuse a lack of regulation for the Telegram platform to spread fake news in the European Union’s eastern nations, a top EU commissioner warned.

“Telegram is an issue,” Vera Jourova, European Commission vice-president for values and transparency, told Bloomberg TV. She said the Russian-owned service “is especially active in the eastern member states where we have a Russian-speaking minority.”

She said Telegram was a “special case” because it claims to have only 42 million users in the bloc — below the 45 million threshold needed to be scrutinised under its new Digital Services Act — which places guardrails on the spread of harmful and illegal material online.

Read more: Too small to police, too big to ignore: Telegram divides EU

“We are now checking whether the figure is right and in case we discover that this is more than 42 million, we will have to look deeply into how Telegram works,” she said.

In an emailed response on Saturday, Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn said the company was abiding by EU sanctions by blocking access to channels such as RT, Sputnik and NewsFront.

Telegram doesn’t use algorithms to promote sensational content to users, who receive only the information they explicitly choose to subscribe to, Vaughn said.

The Digital Services Act took full effect earlier this year and allows the EU to fine major platforms of as much as 6% of global annual sales if it finds violations — or ban repeat offenders from the EU.

Telegram is often used by pro-Kremlin accounts to spread disinformation regarding issues ranging from the war in Ukraine to immigration and climate change. More recently, Russian intelligence officers have used it to recruit petty criminals to carry out acts of sabotage across European capitals. DM

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