Biden missing talks would be ‘applause’ for Putin

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Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that if US President Joe Biden missed a peace summit organised by Kyiv in Switzerland next month, it would be like a standing ovation for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine hopes to host as many countries as possible in an attempt to unite opinion on how to halt the war and pile pressure on Russia, which has seized almost a fifth of Ukraine’s territory. Washington has signalled support but has not said whether Biden will attend.

“I know that the US supports the summit but we don’t know at what level,” the Ukrainian president said in Brussels on Monday at a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

“(The) peace summit needs President Biden and so do the other leaders who look at the reaction of the United States. His absence would be an applause to Putin, a personal standing applause to Putin.”

Zelensky on Sunday urged both Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Putin’s close ally and a leading beneficiary of his rift to attend the summit.

Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has said it sees no point in the conference.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia has never abandoned peace talks with Ukraine and is ready to return to them, while Ukraine itself has withdrawn from the negotiation process.

He alleged that the West provoked Russia’s latest offensive into Ukraine’s Kharkiv region by ignoring Russia’s warnings not to allow Ukraine to strike the adjacent Russian region of Belgorod.

Strikes on Russian territory by weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine are only possible with the help of specialists from Western countries, Putin said, adding that this could lead to serious consequences.

In a separate development, Kyiv’s defence minister said Ukraine will receive its first supplies of F-16 fighter jets “very soon”, but around half of its desperately needed foreign military aid is arriving late.

LondonGBDESK//

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