Tuesday, July 23, 2024

In Switzerland, peace summit reaffirms Ukraine’s integrity and wants to engage Russia – 06/17/2024 at 03:27


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the closing press conference of the Ukraine Peace Summit in Burgenstock near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 16, 2024 (AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF)

The majority of countries gathered at the first Ukraine Peace Summit reiterated their support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial sovereignty. And Russia insisted on being part of the discussions to reach a “durable and fair” position.

But the summit was barely over, with Russia and its leaders — Vladimir Putin demanding a de facto surrender from Kiev for any talks — “not ready for a fair peace,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assessed.

During a press conference at the end of the conference, which brought together the leaders of more than 90 countries in a complex luxury hotel in central Switzerland, he insisted that Russia could hold peace talks “tomorrow, if it leaves our territory”.

More than two years after the Russian invasion, most of the participants were able to agree on a final report outlining ways to end the biggest European conflict since World War II.

But the question of “how and when to engage Russia” remains open, acknowledged Viola Amhert, president of the Swiss Confederation and host of the summit.

“We need to find a way to allow Russia and China to join these discussions,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo told him.

According to the official count, about 80 countries support the final declaration. Notably, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia are not part of it.

Pawan Kapur, head of the Indian delegation, emphasized that “peace can only be achieved by bringing both sides to the conflict into honest engagement.”

The text reaffirms “the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine.” He denounces the “militarization of food security” and calls for the return of Ukrainian children deported by Russia.

While Russia and its Chinese ally boycotted the first summit, he also called for “engaging all sides” in the conflict to end hostilities.

Beijing did not participate as Moscow did not. But Mr. Zelensky assured on Sunday that his country is “not an enemy” of China. “Ukraine has only one enemy: Putin,” he insisted.

– Second Summit –

“We know that peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved overnight. This is a path forward. This (summit) is not a peace negotiation because Putin is not seriously interested in ending the war.” European Commission Ursula van der Leyen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Swiss President Viola Amherd during the Ukraine Peace Summit in Birkenstock near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 16, 2024 (POOL / URS FLUEELER)

The Ukrainian president explained that the summit will be followed by meetings at the technical and ministerial level, before the second peace summit, “to end this war and get a just and lasting peace.” The aim is to unite the international community around a peace proposal to be presented to Moscow.

The meeting took place while Ukraine was in a military crisis, but Mr. Zelensky promised, “We start talking about peace because we have become weak.”

A call for surrender launched by President Vladimir Putin on Friday was also strongly rejected by the majority of participants.

(lr) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Swiss President Viola Amherd, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chilean President Gabriel Boric and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the closing press conference of the Peace Summit in Burgenstock, Ukraine on June 16, 2024, Switzerland (Pool/Michael Buholzer)

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday that Ukraine would “think” about the Russian president’s proposal, promising that it was not an “ultimatum” but an “initiative for peace, which takes into account the realities on the ground”.

The Ukrainian president described the summit as a “victory”, particularly in the release of US military aid, which was delayed by a few months and guaranteed by Russian assets frozen in a $50 billion loan.

– Bring the kids in –

Sunday was dedicated to nuclear security and global food security, including ensuring freedom of navigation in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a televised speech at the Ukraine Peace Summit in Burgenstock near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 15, 2024 (POOL / URS FLUEELER)

The final report calls for the release of prisoners of war “through full exchange,” but also for the release of “all deported and illegally displaced Ukrainian children.”

“We’ve seen almost 20,000 Ukrainian children taken from their families, their communities and their country, it’s horrifying to say that, and how can the world turn that around?” Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris was outraged.

The text also calls for the “return to Ukraine” of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.

– Food and Nuclear Safety –

Debates about food security have focused on the crisis in agricultural production and exports that created a food and inflationary shock at the start of the war, leaving Ukraine as one of the world’s grain baskets.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and European Council President Charles Michel during the Ukraine Peace Summit in Burgenstock near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 16, 2024.

The final report underlined that “food security must not be militarized in any way” and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov must be guaranteed.

Discussions include not only the destruction of fertile land, but also the dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The final report also calls for Ukraine to regain “full sovereign control” over the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which is occupied by the Russians.

President Volodymyr Zelensky next to the American flag during the Ukraine Peace Summit in Birkenstock near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 15, 2024

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly warned of the risk of a major nuclear disaster at this reactor.

The plant’s “critical situation” is “not a theoretical threat, but a very real one,” especially because of the waste that needs to be permanently cooled, IAEA director Raffaele Grossi reiterated in an interview with the Russian Izvestia newspaper. , said it was important to “maintain a constructive dialogue with both sides” of the conflict.