Jokowi offers to deliver message from Ukraine's Zelensky to Putin

Mr Joko Widodo (right) greeting Mr Volodymyr Zelensky during their meeting at the presidential palace in Kyiv, on June 29, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Mr Joko Widodo (left) met Mr Volodymyr Zelensky at the Maryinsky Palace in Kyiv. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/ INDONESIAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE

KYIV (REUTERS) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered on Wednesday (June 29) to deliver a message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to try to boost peace hopes.

It was not immediately clear how Mr Zelensky responded to the offer during talks in Kyiv or whether the Ukrainian leader had any message he wished to send to Mr Putin.

Mr Widodo is the chair of the Group of 20 nations and one of six leaders the United Nations has appointed as “champions” of a Global Crisis Response Group, formed to address the threat of hunger and destitution posed by the war in Ukraine.

Mr Widodo is due to go to Moscow to meet Mr Putin on Thursday, and has said he will urge the Russian President to agree to a ceasefire.

Peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv are frozen, with each side blaming the other.

“Even though it is very hard to achieve, I expressed the importance of a peace resolution,” Mr Widodo said after meeting Mr Zelensky.

"I offered to deliver a message from President Zelensky to President Putin, whom I will meet soon.”

Mr Widodo has said he is committed to tackling the rise in food and energy prices and shortages since Russia’s invasion. “All efforts must be made to ensure Ukraine can resume exporting food,” he said.

Mr Widodo, who arrived in Kyiv with his wife Iriana Joko Widodo from Poland by train on Wednesday morning, repeated an invitation to Mr Zelensky to attend a G-20 leaders’ summit in Indonesia’s Bali in November.

The couple travelled to Irpin, a battle-scarred town which is just 21km north-west of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, and inspected buildings affected by the war. They also visited a hospital in Kyiv to distribute aid packages.

Mr Widodo’s visit took place as Russian forces intensified attacks on fronts across the country and Nato branded Russia the most “direct threat” to allied security after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The alliance vowed to modernise the beleaguered Ukrainian military, saying it stood four-square with Kyiv in “the heroic defence of their country”.

Completing a summit dominated by the geopolitical upheaval caused by the invasion, Nato formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance and pledged to reinforce combat-ready and rapid-reaction forces on its eastern flank, closest to Russia.

United States President Joe Biden announced additional land, air and sea deployments across Europe, including a permanent army headquarters with accompanying battalion in Poland, the first full-time US deployment on Nato’s eastern fringes.

The US-led alliance said it would also deploy more “robust in-place combat-ready forces” on its eastern flank, scaled up from existing battlegroups to brigade-size units.

Mr Biden said the fresh US deployment plans include sending extra warships to Spain, fighter jet squadrons to Britain, ground troops to Romania, air defence units to Germany and Italy, and a range of assets to the Baltic states.

As the 30 national Nato leaders were meeting in Madrid, Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine, including missile strikes on the southern Mykolaiv region.

Mykolaiv’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said a Russian missile had killed at least three people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries in the region.

He said eight Russian missiles had struck the city, including an apartment block. Mykolaiv has been a bastion against Russian efforts to push westwards towards Ukraine’s main port of Odesa.

Mr Zelensky reiterated to Nato leaders that Kyiv needed more weapons and money, at a faster pace, to start countering Russia’s huge edge in firepower.

A Russian missile approaches a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine, on June 28, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Mykolaiv strike took place just two days after a Russian missile hit a shopping 
mall in Kremenchuk
in central Ukraine, killing at least 18 people. Rescuers were still searching for dozens of missing on Wednesday.

The Kremenchuk attack drew international condemnation. Moscow denied targeting the mall and said it had struck an arms depot nearby, which exploded.

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