Zelenskiy, from ravaged Kharkiv, urges Biden and Xi to join peace summit

By Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) -President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Sunday to attend his peace summit as Ukraine struggles to stave off unrelenting attacks by Russia in its 27-month-old invasion.

Ukraine hopes to host as many countries as possible at Kyiv-led talks in Switzerland next month aimed at uniting global opinion on how to halt the war and piling pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has not been invited.

Zelenskiy spoke in an English-language video recorded in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, inside the charred remains of a printing house that was destroyed on Thursday in a Russian missile strike. He said more than 80 countries would attend.

But it was unclear whether Biden would be there, nor has Beijing, which maintains close ties with Moscow, said whether it would attend.

A U.S. official said on Sunday that the United States will participate in the summit, but declined to say who or at what level.

"I am appealing to the leaders of the world who are still aside from the global efforts of the Global Peace Summit – to President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China," said Zelenskiy.

"Please, show your leadership in advancing the peace – the real peace and not just a pause between the strikes," he said.

Zelenskiy added that the summit would "show who in the world really wants to end the war."

Kyiv, in its peace plan, calls for a full withdrawal of Russian troops and a restoration of its internationally recognised borders, something Moscow considers a non-starter.

Last week, Russian sources told Reuters that Putin was ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines.

In response, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the Russian leader was "trying to derail" the Switzerland event because he was "scared of its success."

"His entourage sends these phony signals of alleged readiness for a cease-fire despite the fact that Russian troops continue to brutally attack Ukraine while their missiles and drones rain down on Ukrainian cities and communities," he wrote on X.

Russia has previously said it sees no point in Ukraine's conference.


In recent months Moscow's forces have made slow but steady gains along several parts of the sprawling eastern front and are attempting to push deeper into the northeastern Kharkiv region after a ground incursion launched earlier this month.

The regional capital has been repeatedly hit by Russian bombs and missile strikes, including the attack on the printing house that killed seven and another on a DIY hardware store on Saturday that killed at least 14.

In his video address, Zelenskiy also said that Moscow was gathering troops for new "offensive actions" further northwest of Kharkiv along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Ukraine's army chief last week said his forces were preparing for a possible Russian assault on the Sumy region that neighbours Kharkiv.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Toby Chopra, Frances Kerry and Mark Porter)