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Ukraine Peace Summit Raises Hopes for Dialogue, But Challenges Remain

  • The Ukraine Peace Summit aimed to initiate a dialogue to resolve the conflict, but Russia's absence and preconditions raised concerns about the future of peace negotiations.
  • Ukraine and many participants condemned Russia's proposals as ultimatums aimed at disrupting the summit.
  • China, Russia's geopolitical ally, proposed its peace process involving both Russia and Ukraine, emphasizing respect for national sovereignty but remaining silent on Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Ukraine

For two days during the June 15-16 summit for peace in Ukraine, senior officials from more than 90 countries focused on the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II. As the delegations dispersed, participants lauded the launching of a process to keep the dialogue going and the prospect of a second summit in the near future.

But the fact the Moscow was not invited to the event and had derided it as a waste of time and effort cast doubts over the future of any peace process. Although the summit’s final communiqué did not explicitly mention Russia, it noted that “reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties.”

“We, therefore, decide to undertake concrete steps in the future…with further engagement of the representatives of all parties,” the statement continued, noting that the “basis” for a resolution to the conflict had to be “the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.”

“This was an inaugural summit intended to get a peace process moving based on the UN Charter and respect for international law,” said Ukrainian analyst Volodymyr Fesenko, director of the Penta political research center. “What comes next? One possibility that was discussed on the sidelines of the summit would be to hold a peace conference.

“Many participants at the peace summit mentioned that in the future another event [with the participation of Russia and Ukraine] must be held,” Fesenko added. “But without preconditions or ultimatums.”

Speaking to journalists after the summit’s first session on June 15, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “There is no Russia here because if Russia would be interested in peace, there would be no war.”

'Trying To Make It Look Like A Compromise'

At a special Moscow event on the eve of the peace summit in Switzerland, Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out what he described as a peace plan for Ukraine. He said that if Kyiv withdrew its forces from all the Ukrainian regions that Russia has claimed, including territory currently held by Ukrainian forces, and renounced any ambition to join NATO, Moscow would “immediately” order a cease-fire and be ready to begin negotiations.

He added that a peace agreement had to be based on international recognition of Moscow’s claims to Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, and Crimea regions and the lifting of all sanctions imposed against Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to journalists on June 16, added that the Kremlin considers Zelenskiy to be an illegitimate leader and would not hold talks with him.

Putin’s statement was immediately denounced by Ukraine and many participants in the Switzerland summit as an “ultimatum” aimed at disrupting the global event.

“It is clear that he did not mean these proposals as the beginning of negotiations that could lead to peace,” said Russian political analyst Ivan Preobrazhensky, “but rather to Ukraine’s capitulation or to continued fighting…. Putin is demanding he be given what he could not take by military force, all the while trying to make it look like a compromise.”

“What Putin said were preconditions,” analyst Fesenko said. “They were not proposals to be negotiated. They were preconditions, an ultimatum…. A real peace process has to begin without preconditions.”

Deutsche Welle journalist Konstantin Eggert told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that “it is clear that Putin does not want peace and that he thinks he can continue fighting for a rather long time and wait out everyone else.”

China's Interests

China, Russia’s main geopolitical ally, did not attend the Switzerland summit and has proposed – together with Brazil – its own peace process involving both Russia and Ukraine. In its statements, Beijing has stressed that a peace agreement must be based on respect for “national sovereignty” while remaining silent on the question of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The “success” of the Switzerland summit, said Russian political scientist Aleksandr Morozov, has created a kind of “dynamic” that Beijing will have to take into account if it is to proceed as an intermediary.

“The war is now on the agenda of a large number of countries,” he said, adding that the summit’s statement in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be ignored.

Preobrazhensky noted Beijing’s influence in Moscow but expressed doubt that China could compel “a strategic revision of Moscow’s course.” Moreover, he argued Beijing’s own interests may not be in seeking a peaceful resolution in Ukraine.

“Beijing is not interested in ending the aggression,” he said. “It has other interests. They want to preserve the status quo. Russia must not completely lose this war, but there is no need – from China’s perspective – for it to win either.”

The Saudi Card

En route to Switzerland, Zelenskiy made a surprise stop in Saudi Arabia, where he persuaded the Saudis to participate in the summit. Kyiv reportedly sees Saudi Arabia as a possible host for a follow-on peace conference with the participation of both China and Russia.

During the summit session on June 15, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud expressed hope that the summit would “provide us the basis of a political track of resolving the conflict. But the path to peace will require some difficult compromises as part of the road map.

“Any credible process will need Russia’s participation,” he concluded.

Analyst Fesenko said the Switzerland summit provides a basis for further discussion on issues where “agreement is possible,” such as the release of prisoners or the return of Ukrainian children illegally taken to Russia.

“But there are questions on which no compromise is possible, including the status of the occupied regions,” he said.

There could be a Saudi “continuation of the global summit,” Fesenko said, noting media reports that the European Union supports such an initiative.

On the other hand, the process that led to the Switzerland summit could continue with low-level, informal meetings involving representatives of summit participants, together with Ukraine and Russia.

“These would not be peace talks,” he stressed, “but rather attempts to agree on the format of future peace talks and the agenda of such talks.”

By RFE/RL

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on June 17 2024 said:
    Having already prevailed militarily in Ukraine meaning that Ukraine couldn't any more mount counteroffensives against Russian troops even with direct involvement by US-led NATO, the only peace treaty President Putin will consider is one on his own terms and this means:

    1- Ukraine renounces any ambition to join NATO.

    2- Recognition of the Crimea and the other regions with Russian majority, namely Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya as parts of Russia.

    3- Lifting of all sanctions imposed against Russia.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

Leave a comment




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