Leaders join peace summit in Switzerland in test of Kyiv’s diplomatic clout

Published June 16, 2024
US Vice President Kamala Harris (C/L) and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (C/R) take part in talks with their respective delegations during a Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne in central Switzerland, on June 15, 2024. — AFP
US Vice President Kamala Harris (C/L) and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (C/R) take part in talks with their respective delegations during a Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne in central Switzerland, on June 15, 2024. — AFP

BURGENSTOCK: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday he would present Moscow a proposal for ending the war when it had been agreed upon by the international community.

Zelensky made these remarks during a summit at a Swiss mountain resort where world leaders gathered to try to build support for Ukraine’s peace proposals.

“We must decide together what a just peace means for the world and how it can be achieved in a lasting way,” Zelensky said at the summit attended by representatives of more than 90 countries.

But China’s absence has dimmed hopes the summit would show Russia as globally isolated, while recent military reverses have put Kyiv on the back foot.

“We must decide together what a just peace means for the world and how it can be achieved in a lasting way,” Zelensky said.

He has trumpeted the summit’s wide attendance as a success and predicted “history being made”, adding that agreements stemming from it will be part of the peacemaking process.

“Ukraine never wanted this war. It’s a criminal and absolutely unprovoked aggression by Russia,” he said alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd, who said the conflict had brought “unimaginable suffering” and violated international law.

Some 100 countries and global institutions, including the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, are convening at the Swiss luxury mountainside resort for the talks.

The heads of some non-European countries, like Chile, Ghana and Kenya, are also attending.

Russia’s BRICS partners Brazil and South Africa are only sending an envoy, and India will be represented at the ministerial level.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the gathering an important step to discuss peace and security questions, while Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said any credible process towards peace will need Russia’s participation.

US Vice President Kamala Harris announced more than $1.5 billion in energy and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, where infrastructure has been pounded by Russian airstrikes since the 2022 invasion.

“This war remains an utter failure for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Harris said during a meeting with Zelenskiy.

A military helicopter hovered over the luxury Buergenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne on Saturday as leaders arrived by helicopter on a patch of grassland fenced off with razor wire while cows grazed nearby.

On the eve of the summit, Putin said Russia would end the war only if Kyiv agreed to drop its Nato ambitions and hand over four provinces claimed by Moscow — demands Kyiv swiftly rejected as tantamount to surrender.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2024

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