Wednesday, July 24, 2024

WORLD | 12-06-2024 13:10

Upcoming Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland: what Kyiv wants

Ukraine is bringing together dozens of world leaders and international organisations in Switzerland this weekend to mount pressure on Russia and outline a path towards peace.

Ukraine is bringing together dozens of world leaders and international organisations at the plush Burgenstock resort in Switzerland this weekend to mount pressure on Russia and outline a path towards peace.

Kyiv hopes to forge a global consensus that goes beyond its Western allies and embraces also countries of the Global South, often courted by Moscow. 

It is hoping to end the war without the input of China or Russia, which has downplayed the importance of the conference. 

Ukraine has also identified several specific issues it wants to rally support around.


Children, energy, trade

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an interview with AFP last month identified three key concerns it will place at the centre of the conference, as part of his 10-point plan to end the war.

First: he said he wants to secure the return of thousands of some 20,000 Ukrainian children that he says have been forcibly transferred to Russian-controlled territory. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Russian leader Vladimir Putin over this allegation in 2023.

Second: Zelenskyy wants guarantees around nuclear and energy security. Russian strikes have crippled Ukrainian power plants and fighting near the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has raised fears of a catastrophic radiation accident.

Third: he wants to ensure that Ukraine will be able to export grain via the Black Sea – a key corridor for deliveries to food-vulnerable nations that Kyiv wants to win over.  

Zelenskyy told AFP that if Ukraine can rally consensus around these issues: "it means that Russia will not block them further.”


No Russia

Russia's exclusion from the summit has prompted criticism from some Kremlin-sympathetic capitals including Beijing, which said Russia should be included in any peace process.

The Kremlin has said it would be "absurd" to work towards resolving the conflict without Russian participation.

However Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said this week Russia must be included at some point and that it was more a question of "when Russia will be on board" in the process rather than if.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, echoed that point on Tuesday, suggesting that Russian representatives could be invited to a later summit.

“We are considering the possibility of inviting a representative of Russia to a second summit and to present together a common plan," he said.

Zelenskyy earlier explained why Russia had not been invited: "We do not want any formats of negotiations, any formulas for peace to be imposed on us by countries, even our partners, who are not here, not at war."

Some 90 countries have confirmed their participation in the summit.

Global South

Ukraine has invited more than 160 nations to participate at the summit and Zelenskyy has said garnering support from as many countries as possible, including the global south, will be key to the summit.

Zelenskyy pointed out several areas of mutual interest to AFP. Countries in Africa are concerned with food security while Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have helped secure the release of Ukrainian children from Russia.

Moscow however has longstanding diplomatic ties with countries in Africa and South America from the Soviet period. Many were represented at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg last week.

Ukraine has accused Moscow of seeking to deter countries in the global south from attending.

"The global majority can ensure that what is agreed upon is actually implemented, and that Russia, which started this brutal war, cannot push us off the path to ending it," Zelenskyy has said.

"The more such countries we have on our side … the more Russia should take this into account," he argued.

Petro, Boric and Noboa

A number of Latin American leaders will be present, including President Gustavo Petro of Colombia, President Gabriel Boric of Chile, and President Daniel Noboa of Ecuador will be in Switzerland.

Peru and Uruguay will send their foreign ministers, Javier Gonzá-Olaechea and Omar Paganini, respectively.

Argentina will be represented by Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, although local press reports say President Javier Milei, who will be at the G7 summit in Italy this weekend, may attend.

Neither Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva nor any of his ministers plan to attend the meeting on the Ukraine conflict.


Peace plan

Ukraine's agenda for the summit is broadly based around a 10-point "peace formula" that was devised in Kyiv and has been promoted by Zelensky since the war's first year. 

Kyiv says the aim of the plan is to achieve a just and lasting peace, guided by international law and principles outlined by the United Nations.

It foresees the restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and the establishment of a tribunal to investigate war crimes.

Moscow has rejected Zelenskyy's plan because it would require Russia to return territory it has conquered in Ukraine over the last decade of conflict.


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