Zelenskiy Implores Biden, Xi to Attend Summit as Russia Ramps Up

(Bloomberg) -- President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the leaders of the US and China to attend a summit to discuss Ukraine’s peace blueprint as Russia builds up troop formations near Ukraine’s northeast border and steps up air attacks.

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Russian glide bombs struck a home-improvement superstore in Kharkiv on Saturday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 43, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said Sunday. Sixteen more people are missing, he said. The bombs triggered a fire that scorched more than 10,000 square meters of the store on a busy shopping day.

The attack generated outrage from Ukraine’s allies and new calls for more military aid.

On Thursday, a Russian missile hit a Kharkiv publishing house, one of the largest in Europe, killing seven employees.

“I am appealing to the leaders of the world who are still aside from the global efforts of the global peace summit,” Zelenskiy said Sunday from Kharkiv, naming US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping specifically.

“We do not want the United Nation Charter to be burnt…burnt down just like these books,” Zelenskiy said.

Switzerland has scheduled the conference for June 15-16 on the heels of a meeting of the Group of Seven in Borgo Egnazia, Italy.

Several G-7 leaders plan to join but neither Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris are slated to be there, Bloomberg News reported. Biden is scheduled to fly from the G-7 to Los Angeles for a major fundraiser on June 15 fundraiser featuring Hollywood stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts, former President Barack Obama, and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

China, meanwhile, joined forces with Brazil to announce a rival initiative on Friday. They’ve called for an international conference that would bring both Ukraine and Russia to the table.

Read more: Ukraine’s Peace Project Is Dented by Rival Plan, Hollywood Cash

Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t invited to the Swiss meeting as Ukraine wants to agree with allies on steps to put pressure on the Kremlin.

“Ukraine has the world’s largest experience of lies from Russia during negotiations. Lies that in particular were Russian cover-ups for preparing this war,” Zelenskiy said referring to Putin’s constant reiteration he didn’t plan to invade Ukraine in 2022.

Read more: US Says Rushing Weapons to Ukraine Amid Fighting in Kharkiv

Russia has recently seized the initiative on the battlefield during the six-month delay in securing Congressional approval for a $61 billion package of US military aid for Kyiv.

Moscow’s troops launched another assault in Kharkiv region this month, seeking to stretch depleted Ukrainian forces.

“Russia is preparing for offensive actions also 90 kilometers (56 miles) northwest from here,” Zelenskiy on Sunday without offering more detail.

Ukraine’s leader has called on the US to allow its donated weapon systems to be used to strike Russian troops on Russian territory — a move that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg appeared to endorse on Friday.

Read more: Ukraine Army Chief Says Russia’s Kharkiv Offensive Bogged Down

“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have imposed on weapons donated to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told The Economist in an interview.

Russia attacked Ukraine again overnight with 14 missiles, including two Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and 31 Shahed drones, Ukrainian general staff said. Poland’s military scrambled jets early Sunday due to intense Russian air activity in western Ukraine.

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