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Attention-starved Zelensky wants spotlight off Israel-Palestine conflict as it distracts the world from Kyiv’s war with Moscow
By Belle Carter // Jun 07, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has openly complained that the fighting in Gaza is distracting the world from his country's war with Russia.

"We can already see the consequences of the international community shifting attention because of the tragedy in the Middle East," he told the Associated Press last year following Kyiv's failed and costly summer counteroffensive against Moscow. Now, despite the ongoing conflict within his court, he is meddling with Israel's full invasion plans of the Palestinian territory. According to Zelensky, his country will work to pressure Israel to end the bloodshed in Gaza.

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore on Sunday, the Ukrainian leader said that Israel has the right to defend itself from "Hamas terrorists." "Ukraine said that if Hamas terrorists attacked civilians on the first day of the attack on Israeli civilians, Israel has the right to defend itself," he said. But then, he raised concerns over the dire humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave, besieged by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

"When Israel was in Gaza and there was a humanitarian crisis, Ukraine said: First, we are ready to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza; second, we must respect international law; third, Ukraine recognizes two states, both Israel and Palestine, and will do everything to make Israel stop, to end this conflict, and to prevent civilians from suffering," he added. Zelensky also stressed the need to distinguish between the two periods and "not to mix them into one."

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Unlike many Western countries, Israel has refused to impose sanctions on Russia. Though Israel has repeatedly expressed support for Ukraine since the Russian forces invaded the nation, it has stopped short of offering military aid. It has sent humanitarian aid to Kyiv during the conflict and is working on developing an alert system for incoming Russian strikes. However, it would not supply its missile interceptor systems, both fearing it could fall into Russian hands and seeking to avoid overly antagonizing Moscow which has a heavy military presence in Syria.

Zelensky also met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin while in Singapore to discuss Ukraine's immediate defense needs, enhancement of its air defense systems, cooperation within the F-16 coalition and the drafting of a new bilateral security agreement.

Ukraine reportedly invited both Israel and Palestine to the upcoming global peace summit it is organizing on June 15-16 at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland. Kyiv is said to be "ready to hear every opinion" of other countries, "except for Russia." 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.

Russia and China undermine the "peace summit," Zelensky claims

For Zelensky, Russia and China are doing their best to undermine the upcoming global peace summit he is trying to mount in Switzerland.

He claimed that Russia is trying to dissuade other states from attending the event by pressuring countries not to attend, through threats of a blockade of agricultural goods, chemical goods and energy.

Despite insisting that it does not side with either side of the Ukraine war, China is accused of aiding Moscow by sending components for weapons. It was also seen as propping up the Russian economy by purchasing vast quantities of oil and gas, softening the impact of Western sanctions.

Zelensky said China's leader Xi Jinping had earlier promised him they would "stand aside in this war and would not support Russia with weapons." But there are now "elements that are part of Russia's weaponry" that come from China, according to various intelligence agencies. He called for China to maintain a "consistent" position. The U.S. also alleged that China is helping Russia make more munitions, armored vehicles and missiles. It estimates about 70 percent of the machine tools and 90 percent of the microelectronics Russia imports come from China.

Meanwhile, Russia was doing "everything to disrupt the peace summit" by using "Chinese influence on the region" and diplomats to do so, Zelensky insisted. "It is unfortunate that such a big, independent, powerful country as China is an instrument in the hands of Putin."

The said appearance of Zelensky in the Singapore dialogue attended by defense chiefs from around the world is to drum up support for his upcoming summit later in June. Besides meeting regional leaders, he also urged delegates to attend, vowing that the meeting would focus on achieving nuclear security, food security and the release of prisoners of war and Ukrainian children held in Russia. (Related: Zelensky blames the world for Russian offensive in Kharkiv, but Ukrainian troops beg to differ.)

So far 106 countries said they would send high-level representatives or their leaders to the summit, he said. Russia has not been invited and China is not attending. Certain countries were assisting this "diplomatic disruption," Zelensky added.

China's foreign ministry stated that the conference "should have the recognition of Russia and Ukraine" and equal participation. "Otherwise, it is difficult for the conference to play a substantive role in restoring peace," a spokeswoman said on Friday.

Head over UkraineWitness.com for more stories related to Zelensky and Ukraine's status updates.

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