Ukraine Peace Summit: Leaders Meet in Switzerland, No Russia

OBBÜRGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Dozens of world leaders gathered in a Swiss resort on Saturday to discuss how to bring peace to war-torn Ukraine, even as Russia’s absence dampened any hopes of real progress.

Three years into the war, fighters will be distant As they always have, Kyiv is sticking to its demands that Russia withdraw all Ukrainian territory it has seized, and Moscow is continuing its offensive over large swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine already.

Despite Russia’s absence from the summit at the Bürgenstock resort Overlooking Lake Lucerne, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi predicted early on that the talks would lead to “history being made”.

“We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace,” he said at a press conference with Swiss President Viola Amherd.

Addressing the conference later, Zelensky said the summit would lay the groundwork for a final resolution to the conflict.

“In the first peace summit, we must decide how to achieve a just peace, so that in the second, we can already make a real decision for war,” he said.

The Swiss patrons He said more than 50 government and government leaders will attend Meeting at Bürgenstock Resort Overlooking Lake Lucerne. Around 100 delegates were also expected, including from European organizations and the United Nations.

It was a point of intrigue over a meeting that critics said would be meaningless without the presence of Russia, which has invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Although his country did not attend, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the rare step of laying out his terms for ending the war on Friday. But his proposals contained no new demands, and Kiev blasted them as “manipulative” and “ridiculous.”

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The conference was attended by presidents or prime ministers of countries as far away as Britain, Ecuador and Kenya. US Vice President Kamala Harris, and several foreign ministers, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, some major developing countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil were merely observing the event, sending low-level officials.

china, Support Russia, joining many other countries participating in the event. Beijing has said any peace process would require the participation of Russia and Ukraine, and has floated Its own ideas for peace.

Last month, China and Brazil agreed to six “common understandings” on a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, urging other countries to ratify them and play a role in promoting peace talks. The agreement’s six points include “supporting a timely international peace conference recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation of all parties and fair discussion of all peace plans.”

Russian troops control large swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine have made territorial gains In recent months. Ukrainian forces recently retook large swaths of territory near the southern city of Kherson and the northern city of Kharkiv as talks began on a Swiss-hosted peace summit last summer.

Against a backdrop of battlefield and diplomatic strategy, summit organizers have presented three agendas: nuclear security, including the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia power plant; humanitarian assistance and a prisoner of war exchange; And global food security is sometimes disrupted by disruptions to exports through the Black Sea.

The to-do list is short, containing some controversial items short of the plans and hopes presented by Zelensky in the late 2022 10-point peace formula. That plan called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied Ukraine. territory, a ceasefire and the restoration of Ukraine’s original borders with Russia, including Russia’s withdrawal from occupied Crimea.

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Putin, meanwhile, wants any peace deal to be built around a draft accord negotiated in the early stages of the war that would include Ukraine’s neutral status and limits on its armed forces. Ukraine’s push to join NATO has rankled Moscow for years.

On Friday, Putin told Russian diplomats and senior lawmakers that he would “immediately” order a ceasefire and open negotiations if Ukraine abandons its bid to join NATO and begins withdrawing troops from the four regions illegally annexed by Moscow in 2022.

While Putin’s demands are a non-starter for Ukraine, analysts say Kiev is currently unable to negotiate from a position of strength.

“The situation on the battlefield has changed dramatically,” said Alexander Gabov, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, adding that while Russia “cannot quickly achieve its maximum objectives by military means,” it is gaining momentum on the battlefield.

“So many countries coming to the summit will question whether the Zelenskyy peace formula still has legs,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Much of the world is paying attention War in Gaza And National elections in 2024Ukraine’s supporters want to bring global attention back to Russia’s violation of international law and the restoration of Ukraine’s territory.

The International Crisis Group, a consulting firm focused on ending the conflict, wrote this week that “Burgenstock is not a big surprise.”

“Nevertheless, the Swiss summit is an opportunity for Ukraine and its allies to underline what the UN General Assembly recognized in 2022, and reiterated in the February 2023 resolution for a just peace in Ukraine: Russia’s all-out aggression is a flagrant violation of international law,” it said.

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Experts said they will be closely watching the wording of any outcome document or plans going forward. Aware of Russia’s reticence about the convention, Swiss officials have repeatedly said they hope Russia will one day join the process, as have Ukrainian officials.

As world leaders discussed a path to peace in Switzerland, a battleground in Ukraine, shelling killed at least three civilians and wounded 15 others Friday and overnight into Saturday, regional officials said.

Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Klatkov, the governor of Russia’s southern Belgorod region, blamed Ukraine in a social media post for the shelling that hit a five-story apartment building in the city of Shebekino and killed five people. There was no immediate comment from Kiev.

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This story has been edited to reflect that Zelensky’s quote beginning “At the first peace summit…” was made during an address to the conference, not a press conference.

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Ken Moritsugu in Beijing and Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.

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