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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has increasingly of late lashed out publicly at the proverbial hand that feeds him. He and his top officials have long complained that the billions in approved Western defense aid and shipments have been much too slow to reach Ukraine, giving the superior-armed Russians a clear advantage.

But now as things get more desperate especially in the Kharkiv region where Russian forces are fast advancing, Zelensky is going after President Biden himself. There’s a major Ukraine-backed peace summit in Switzerland set for next month, and it’s looking very unlikely that Biden will attend, leaving Zelensky deeply unhappy.

During a visit to Belgium on Tuesday, Zelensky told reporters that it would not be “a strong decision” if Biden failed to attend the summit, which is to take place June 15-16 outside Lucerne. He went so far as to say it would be tantamount to a standing ovation for Putin.

Source: Xinhua

In a clear slight and back-handed insult, the Ukrainian leader essentially said Biden would be doing Putin’s bidding if he’s a no-show:

“[The] peace summit needs President Biden and so do the other leaders who look at the reaction of the United States. Putin will only applaud his absence, personally applaud it – and standing, at that,” Zelensky said.

But notably, Russia was never invited to send a representative. Given that Moscow is on the other side as a direct party to the war, this means the conference’s aim to secure “a just and lasting peace” appears an exercise in futility. 

It ultimately seems another photo op for Zelensky where he can be seen standing beside the most powerful world leaders. The Kremlin has dismissed the whole thing as but a pro-Kiev PR opportunity. At this moment, Zelensky is desperately urging for his Western backers to approve of using externally supplied long-range weapons to attack directly inside Russian territory.

But what is it that has Zelensky and his more hawkish supporters so angry? Bloomberg had this headline days ago: Biden Set to Skip Ukraine Peace Summit for Hollywood Fundraiser. The story said as follows:

President Joe Biden will likely miss a Ukraine summit next month because it conflicts with a campaign fundraiser in California he’s set to attend alongside George Clooney, Julia Roberts and other stars.

Switzerland scheduled the conference for June 15-16, after a meeting of the Group of Seven in Italy. Several G-7 leaders plan to join but neither Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to be there, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing private deliberations. President Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited and leaders from other nations are also planning to skip.

The Ukrainian president has also been urging for China’s President Xi Jinping to be at the Swiss summit, seeing in Beijing a powerful country which has sway with Putin – if it can be convinced to back Ukraine’s peace formula.

Zelensky has said of recent deadly Russian strikes on Kharkiv: “Everything was blown up, children, people, civilians and you cannot answer [Russia]. You receive the satellite images from your intelligence but there is nothing you can do to respond. I think this is unfair. But – and this is a fact – we cannot risk the support of our partners. That is why we are not using our partners’ arms to attack the Russian territory. That is why we are asking please give us the permission to do that.”

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