Peace Summit in Ukraine: Leaders meet in Switzerland and Russia is absent

AUBURGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Dozens of world leaders gathered at a Swiss resort on Saturday to discuss how to bring peace to war-torn Ukraine, though any hopes for a real breakthrough were dampened by Russia’s absence.

Three years of war, fighters Stay apart As it has always been, with Kiev adhering to its demands that Russia leave all the Ukrainian territories it seized, Moscow continues its crushing offensive that has already taken control of large areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s absence from the summit In the resort of Bürgenstock Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky overlooks Lake Lucerne and initially predicted that the talks would lead to “making history.”

“We have succeeded in restoring the idea that joint efforts can stop war and achieve just peace for the world,” he said in a joint press conference with Swiss President Viola Amherd.

Addressing the conference later, Zelensky said the summit could lay the foundation for an eventual end to the conflict.

He said: “At the first peace summit, we must determine how to achieve just peace, so that at the second summit we can actually reach a real end to the war.”

the Swiss hosts He said that more than 50 heads of state and government will attend the meeting Gathering at the Bürgenstock resort Overlooking Lake Lucerne. About 100 delegations, including European bodies and the United Nations, are also expected to attend.

Who will attend and who will not attend was an important point about the meeting, which critics said would be meaningless without the presence of Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Although his country did not attend, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday took the rare step of setting his conditions for ending the war. But his proposals did not include any new demands, and Kiev criticized them as “manipulative” and “ridiculous.”

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

China, Who supports Russia, joined dozens of countries that participated in the event. Beijing said that any peace process would require the participation of Russia and Ukraine and raised the issue Her own ideas for peace.

Last month, China and Brazil agreed on six “joint understandings” on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, and asked other countries to support them and play a role in promoting peace talks. The six points include agreeing to “support the holding of an international peace conference at the appropriate time and recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation of all parties in addition to a fair discussion of all peace plans.”

Russian forces control large areas of eastern and southern Ukraine made territorial gains In recent months. When talk of a peace summit hosted by Switzerland began last summer, Ukrainian forces had recently retaken large areas of territory, especially near the southern city of Kherson and the northern city of Kharkiv.

Against the backdrop of battlefield and diplomatic strategies, summit organizers put forward three agenda items: nuclear safety, including the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia power plant; Humanitarian aid and prisoner-of-war exchange; and global food security, which has been disrupted at times by obstruction of shipments through the Black Sea.

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This to-do list, which includes some less controversial issues, falls far short of the proposals and hopes Zelensky laid out in a 10-point peace formula in late 2022. That plan called for the withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied Ukraine. Cessation of hostilities and restoration of Ukraine’s original borders with Russia, including Russia’s withdrawal from occupied Crimea.

Meanwhile, Putin wants any peace deal to be built around a draft agreement negotiated in the early stages of the war that included provisions on Ukraine’s neutral status and restrictions on its armed forces, while delaying talks on Russian-occupied territories. Ukraine’s push to join NATO over the years has angered Moscow.

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

Analysts say that although Putin’s demands are unacceptable to Ukraine, Kiev is currently unable to negotiate from a position of strength.

“The situation on the battlefield has changed dramatically,” said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, noting that although Russia “cannot quickly achieve its maximum goals through military means,” it is gaining momentum on the battlefield.

“So a lot of countries that come to the summit will wonder whether Zelensky’s peace formula still stands,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

With many countries in the world focusing on… The war in Gaza And National elections in 2024Ukraine’s supporters want to return the world’s attention to Russia’s violation of international law and reclaim Ukrainian territory.

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The International Crisis Group, a consulting firm working to end the conflict, wrote this week that “absent a major surprise in Bürgenstock,” the event “is unlikely to have much consequence.”

“However, the Swiss summit is an opportunity for Ukraine and its allies to underline what the UN General Assembly recognized in 2022 and reiterated in its February 2023 resolution on a just peace in Ukraine: comprehensive Russian aggression is a flagrant violation of international law,” he said.

The experts said they would closely study the wording of any final document or plans moving forward. Swiss officials, aware of Russia’s reticence about the conference, have repeatedly expressed hope that Russia could one day join the process, as Ukrainian officials do.

While world leaders discussed the path to peace in Switzerland, the battlefield was continuing in Ukraine, where bombing killed at least three civilians and wounded 15 others on Friday and Saturday night, regional officials said.

Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s southern Belgorod region, blamed Ukraine in a social media post for the bombing Friday that hit a five-story residential building in the town of Shchebykino, killing five people. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv.


This story has been corrected to reflect that Zelensky’s quote beginning “At the first peace summit…” came during a speech to the conference, not during a press conference.


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

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