Volodymyr Zelenskiy has suggested some Central Asian countries are frightened of Moscow and urged them to join a Kyiv-backed peace initiative.  Zelenskiy was speaking on May 24 to Radio Liberty while meeting reporters at a print works in Kharkiv that had been bombed by Russia the previous day in an attack that killed at least seven people.

Radio Liberty says Volodymyr Zelenskiy has challenged Central Asian leaders to put aside concerns of angering Russia, which considers the region part of its sphere of influence, and attend a summit in Switzerland next month aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine.

Speaking to Central Asian journalists during a visit on May 24 to Kharkiv, Zelenskiy reportedly said fear of Moscow's wrath should not deter Central Asian leaders from attending the June 15-16 summit.

"I think they are mostly choosing the Russian side because of the fear of the Kremlin," Zelenskiy said, adding that he had invited all the Central Asian presidents to the summit in Switzerland and "wants to see them at the summit", according to RFE/RL.

Zelenskiy reportedly also told the Central Asian reporters at the meeting in Kharkiv that not even countries that are rich in mineral resources and energy supplies need to avoid being dependent on other countries.

The aim of the summit is to create a broad front to oblige Russia to agree to a peace settlement under the terms of the UN Charter.

Zelenskiy's peace plan calls for the withdrawal of all Russian forces and the restoration of Ukraine's 1991 borders. Russia, which rejects the plan, has not been invited to the summit and has dismissed any discussion of the conflict without its participation as pointless.