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In slamming China over its stance on Russia and the war, Ukraine might have made a big miscalculation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's very public criticism of China over its relationship with Russia and cool stance toward a forthcoming peace summit could end up backfiring on Kyiv, analysts say.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore last Sunday, Zelenskyy unleashed his frustration at China's position over the war between Russia and Ukraine, accusing Beijing of helping Moscow to undermine a forthcoming peace summit in Switzerland by pressuring other countries not to attend.

China firmly denied the accusations, with its Foreign Ministry stating that its position on both Russia and Ukraine was "just and fair" and that its decision to skip the June 15-16 peace summit was based on the fact it did not have the "equal participation" of both sides as Russia is not attending.

China analysts say Zelenskyy's outburst was a risky move that could antagonize and alienate Beijing — and push it closer to Russia.

China "would prefer to cast itself as the role of benevolent peace maker, and wants the Ukrainian leadership to affirm that role, that relationship, and that story," Astrid Nordin, the Lau chair of Chinese International Relations at King's College London, told CNBC.

"The risk to Ukraine of refusing to play the role of recipient of Chinese benevolence is that Chinese leaders might change the script to one where China emphasises a role for itself as a staunch bulwark against Western hegemony, hand-in-hand with Putin," she noted.

"Zelenskyy has little to gain from positioning himself in a way that encourages Chinese leaders to emphasise the latter story over the former," she said, noting that China could easily signal a change of heart toward Kyiv with the "harsh treatment of Ukraine and entrenched support for