Zelensky wants global consensus to give peace a chance

Kiev: Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has made an urgent appeal to world leaders to attend a “peace summit” next month in Switzerland following a deadly Russian attack on a DIY hypermarket in Kharkiv. The assault resulted in the deaths of at least 16 people and left dozens more injured.

Zelenskiy specifically called on US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to participate in the summit, scheduled to begin on June 15. “Please, show your leadership in advancing peace – real peace, not just a pause between strikes,” Zelenskiy urged in a video message delivered in English.


As of now, Biden has not confirmed his attendance, and it remains uncertain if China will join the summit. Negotiations with Beijing are ongoing, according to Zelenskiy’s aide, Mykhailo Podolyak.

The tragic strike capped a week of relentless Russian missile and air attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. These attacks have targeted various locations, including a printing house, residential areas, and a central park, with no apparent military targets nearby.

Kharkiv’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, reported that about 120 people were inside the hardware store when the attack occurred. “The attack targeted the shopping centre where there were many people. This is clearly terrorism,” he stated.

Prosecutors confirmed that at least 16 people were killed, with 10 still unidentified, and 43 were injured. Over 10 individuals remain missing. Additionally, a separate missile strike in the city center injured 18 people.

Kharkiv, located just 20 miles from the Ukrainian border, has suffered daily attacks, creating a grim reality for its residents. Russian fighter jets can launch glide bombs from within Russia, making the city vulnerable. Ukrainian officials emphasize the need for improved air defense systems and F-16 fighter jets to protect the city. The Kharkiv region has also faced a new Russian offensive centered on the town of Vovchansk, causing thousands to flee their homes.

Russia claims its attacks aim to create a “buffer zone” to prevent Ukrainian forces from striking Russian border regions. Saturday’s strike targeted a popular suburban shopping complex, leaving witnesses in shock. “I was at my workplace. I heard the first hit and… with my colleague, we fell to the ground. There was the second hit, and we were covered with debris. Then we started to crawl to higher ground,” said 26-year-old Dmytro Syrotenko, who sustained a large cut on his face.

The strike triggered a fire, sending large clouds of dark smoke over the shopping center. Rescue operations are perilous, as repeat strikes targeting first responders have become common in recent Russian attacks.

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov reported that Russia has launched nearly 10,000 guided air bombs against Ukraine since the beginning of the year. He stressed the need for more modern air defense systems and aviation, a topic frequently discussed with Ukraine’s allies.

On Sunday, Zelenskiy condemned the Kharkiv attack as further evidence that Russia seeks to perpetuate war, not peace. “We all know who we are dealing with. Russia is run by men who want to make it a norm – burning lives, destroying cities and villages, dividing people and erasing national borders through war. There is no nation that can stop such a war alone,” he declared.


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