Kyiv seeks US permission to use long-range missiles to hit Russian air bases

‘With China’s support to Russia, the war will last longer and that is bad for the whole world,’ Zelenskiy says

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine's president, departs the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. Photograph: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

Ukraine has accused Russia and China of trying to undermine this month’s “global peace summit” and urged Washington to allow it to use US-supplied long-range missiles to strike airbases inside Russia.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said more than 100 states and organisations had agreed to attend the June 15th-16th summit in Switzerland, to which Russia has not been invited. Kyiv hopes to forge a global consensus around its plan to end the war and then present it to Moscow at a subsequent international meeting.

“The United States is in contact with some states and is encouraging them to take part in the peace summit. With China, unfortunately, it is the opposite – today it is working to prevent countries from coming to the peace summit,” Mr Zelenskiy said on Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore, Asia’s biggest security conference.

“Regrettably, Russia, using Chinese influence on the region, using Chinese diplomats also, does everything to disrupt the peace summit. It is unfortunate that such a big, independent, powerful country as China is a tool in the hands of [Vladimir] Putin,” he added, referring to the autocratic leader of Russia who launched a full invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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The West says China is helping the Kremlin overcome sanctions and bolster weapons production by allowing huge amounts of “dual-use” items to flow into Russia – electronic products and other goods that can have civilian and military uses.

“With China’s support to Russia, the war will last longer and that is bad for the whole world,” Mr Zelenskiy said. “You cannot say that we accept the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and at the same time be on the side of the country that violates the principles of the UN charter and the ... sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Beijing portrays itself as an impartial observer and fair broker that could help end the war, while also deepening what it hails as a “no limits” relationship with Russia.

“We have never provided weapons to either party of the conflict. We have put stricter control on the export of dual-use items and have never done anything to fan the flames. We stand firmly on the side of peace and dialogue,” Chinese minister for defence Dong Jun told the Singapore forum.

Beijing said last week that it would not send a representative to the summit in Switzerland because “China has always insisted that an international peace conference should be endorsed by both Russia and Ukraine, with the equal participation of all parties”.

Ukraine said it shot down 70 of 72 attack drones and 35 of 55 missiles fired by Moscow’s military over the weekend, when more of the country’s power infrastructure was damaged.

The White House gave permission last week for Ukraine to use some US-supplied arms to hit targets in Russian border areas, but Mr Zelenskiy said his forces should be allowed to launch long-range missiles at airfields from which Russia fires “constantly and completely calmly, knowing that Ukraine cannot strike back”.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe