Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024 in Singapore on June 2. Photo courtesy: X/@ ZelenskyyUa

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has extended an invitation to Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong to this month’s peace meet (June 15-16) in Switzerland. He has also reportedly said that China is trying to disrupt the meet.

Zelenskyy was one of the major non-Asian attendees at the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024 (May 31-June 2), the defence summit of Asia, hosted by Singapore. Another top Western figure at the event was US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

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PM Wong wrote on social media on the concluding day of the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024: “Welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his first visit to Singapore. Singapore has taken a clear stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of what’s at stake — international law, and the fundamental principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The Singapore prime minister wrote in a related post: “We also witnessed the signing of the Ukraine-Singapore Air Services Agreement, which will pave the way for greater air connectivity between our countries. This will enhance relations & benefit our economic and people-to-people links. We look forward to pursuing more practical cooperation.”

In an X post yesterday, Zelenskyy wrote: “I addressed the Shangri-La Dialogue #SLD24 and stressed that the last few decades have seen diplomacy fail to achieve its tasks. Ukraine has found a way to restore the force of diplomacy. We propose peace through diplomacy: an inclusive and fair format, the Global Peace Summit.”

In his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Ukrainian president noted, “It is often said that brutal force should not dominate the world. Similarly, attempts by various power centres to impose something on other nations against their will — in politics, economy, or security — should not dominate either.”

Referring to what global diplomacy was and should ideally be, Zelenskyy told the audience, “Diplomacy should be those caring and strong hands that prevent international disputes from turning into fights, restraining the most aggressive parties. This is how diplomacy often worked in the past.”

Then, he said, “But, frankly, the last few decades have not been a time for diplomacy… [Global] diplomacy has degraded, leaving only disappointment behind.”

He referred to the breach of promise and global diplomatic failure: Ukraine had once handed over its nuclear warheads to Russia, in line with a multilateral international agreement, and now it was Russia “trying to erase Ukraine” from the political map of the world.

“I am here to state that we have found a way to restore diplomacy,” he said on a note of hope. This initiative is the Ukraine-led peace summit to be hosted by Switzerland.

China, one of the key allies of Russia, was blamed by Zelenskyy for trying to disrupt the process of bringing peace to Ukraine by sharing military-grade technology with Russia.

According to media reports, Zelenskyy said at a news conference in Singapore that “with Chinese support to Russia, the war will last longer”.

However, Chinese Defence Minister Dong Jun, speaking to the media in Singapore, denied giving any technology to either party in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Zelenskyy said that there was no meeting between him and Chinese officials at the Singapore summit. He also reportedly said that China was putting pressure on other nations to prevent them from attending the Ukraine-led meet in Switzerland.

To make the Switzerland meet a success and bring peace to Ukraine, “we need the support of Asian countries,” he told the media in Singapore.

Singapore minister warns against “third geopolitical shock”

Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen spoke at the seventh plenary of the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024 yesterday, on the topic ‘Re-imagining Solutions for Global Peace and Regional Stability’, alongside Malaysian Defence Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In his speech, Ng stressed, “If there is any salient epiphany against this backdrop, it must be ‘not here, in Asia’… because we can all agree, that neither Asia nor the world can withstand a third geopolitical shock.”

Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen speaks at a plenary session within the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024
Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen speaks at a plenary session within the Shangri-La Dialogue 2024. Photo courtesy: Singapore Ministry of Defence

Highlighting the important role of defence establishments in strengthening the regional security architecture, the Singapore minister said, “In this region, ASEAN plays a key role by upholding itself and its partners to the ASEAN Charter. In defence, the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Groups (EWGs) exist to promote military-to-military cooperation for the 18 nations.”

Citing its success, he said, “To date, more than 20 large-scale exercises have been conducted and it is noteworthy that this is the only platform where both [the] US and China militaries participate.”