11 July 2024

Singapore – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Singapore to address a major security forum, the organisers told AFP on Saturday, as he seeks to rally support for Kyiv while a Russian offensive gains ground.

Zelensky will speak at the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said, telling AFP that Zelensky would appear in person. 

There had been speculation that Zelensky would make an appearance at this weekend’s security forum attended by defence ministers from around the world, including the United States and China.

Zelensky has been touring European nations in recent days to appeal for more military aid for the Ukrainian army, which has been ceding ground to relentless Russian attacks.

The Singapore announcement follows a US decision to partially lift restrictions on using US-provided weapons to strike inside Russia, which Zelensky has hailed as a “step forward”. 

US President Joe Biden had come under increasing pressure from a desperate Ukraine to ease his ban but had resisted for fear it could drag NATO into direct conflict or even a nuclear standoff with Moscow.

Germany said Friday it too had given Ukraine permission to fire German-delivered weapons at targets in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Tuesday that there would be “serious consequences” if Western countries gave approval to Ukraine.

Ukraine is struggling to hold back a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region, where Moscow recently made its largest territorial gains in 18 months. 

With Russia’s war against Ukraine in its third year, Ukrainian soldiers are exhausted and outgunned.

Many Kyiv allies remain uneasy about the prospect of sending Western troops to Ukraine. 

In February, French President Emmanuel Macron sparked an uproar among NATO members when he refused to rule out sending troops to Ukraine.

Zelensky has visited Spain, Sweden, Portugal and Belgium in recent days as he seeks more weapons and aid for his struggling military, and to whip up support for a peace summit due to be held in Switzerland this month. 

Sweden pledged on Wednesday military aid of 13.3 billion kronor ($1.25 billion) to Ukraine.

The Scandinavian country, which formally joined NATO in March, will donate a range of military supplies, including ASC 890 surveillance aircraft, Rb 99 medium-range air-to-air missiles and artillery ammunition, and its entire fleet of PBV 302 armoured tracked personnel carriers.

Russia fired a combined 100 missiles and drones at Ukraine, in an overnight barrage targeting energy sites across the country, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday.

Russia has launched hundreds of aerial attacks at Ukraine’s power facilities throughout the war, causing significant damage and energy shortages as Ukraine’s stretched air defences struggle to repel waves of drones and missiles.

by Agence France-Presse

Photo : Volodymyr Zelensky//AFP