Putin afraid of what peace summit can achieve: Zelenskyy

Putin afraid of what peace summit can achieve: Zelenskyy

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia's president is afraid of what an upcoming international peace summit could achieve.

Ukraine's leader said the June summit would "not allow Putin to lie anymore", saying no one in the world wants war except what he called the Russian aggressor.

"The world is capable of forcing Russia into peace and into compliance with international security norms. Russia has nothing to oppose the world majority," he said.

Zelenskyy chided leaders of Central Asian states for so far not agreeing to attend.

The Peace Summit is a format that will not allow Putin to lie anymore. And without his lies, he is absolutely nothing.

"Tell me what those who don't join are afraid of? They're afraid of losing something. Afraid of losing even their relationship with today's Kremlin. That doesn't help end the war," he said.

So far, 50 states have confirmed participation in the event due to take place at a resort above Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland from June 15-16. The heads of the Council of Europe, the European Council and the European Commission will also attend.

Zelenskyy was speaking in the north-eastern Kharkiv region where Russian forces have recently made a renewed push.

Part of that ramped-up offensive saw missiles slam into Ukraine’s second-largest city early on Thursday, killing at least seven civilians and wounding 21 others.

The strike hit the country's largest printing facility when some 50 employees were on the premises.

Burnt books in a damaged workshop of Ukraine's largest printing house after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, May 24, 2024
Burnt books in a damaged workshop of Ukraine's largest printing house after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, May 24, 2024 - AP/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office

Zelenskyy visited the site on Friday to assess the damage and expressed his condolences to those killed in the strike.

"Russian terror constantly proves that their goal is the complete destruction of Ukraine and all life here on our land, everything that allows people to be human. We will do everything to protect our state and make Russian evil responsible for what it has done," he said.

Russia's Kharkiv push appears to be a coordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defences in the Donetsk region further south, while also launching incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

Ukraine's problems have been mounting in recent months as it tries to hold out against its much bigger foe.

Now the war appears to be at a critical juncture.

The new Russian offensive is stretching thin Ukraine’s depleted ranks, exhausted by more than two years of war.

But the General Staff struck an upbeat note about the situation in Kharkiv at a press conference on Friday.

"Today the situation there is stable and under control. The enemy has been stopped and the defence forces are planning and conducting offensive assault operations to restore the lost positions," said Ihor Prokhorenko of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the Kharkiv region since Russia launched a fresh offensive there on May 10.

On Friday, officials announced the mandatory evacuation over the next 60 days of 123 orphans and children living without their parents in the area.