Switzerland: Search for peace in Ukraine – initially without Russia

Switzerland: Search for peace in Ukraine – initially without Russia
Switzerland: Search for peace in Ukraine – initially without Russia

Peace summit is a word that raises great expectations. But Ukraine is still a long way from peace. Chancellor Scholz therefore calls the summit in Switzerland a “tender plant”.

After more than two years of war in Ukraine, around 90 countries in Switzerland are looking for ways to achieve peace – but initially without Russia. The country that attacked and partially occupied Ukraine must stay out of the so-called peace summit on a ridge above Lake Lucerne. However, several participants – including Chancellor Olaf Scholz – spoke out in favor of including the aggressor in the process at a future meeting.

“It is true that peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved without involving Russia,” said Scholz. But at the same time he made clear what he believes the conditions for peace are: “Russia could end this war today or at any time if it stops its attacks and withdraws its troops from Ukraine.”

Harris: Putin wants capitulation

Immediately before the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin had set out conditions for peace negotiations, including Ukraine’s complete renunciation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia regions and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea – just over a fifth of Ukraine’s territory.

US Vice President Kamala Harris dismissed the demand as absurd. “We have to tell the truth. He is not calling for negotiations, he is calling for surrender,” she said to Putin, and assured Ukraine of continued support in its defensive struggle against Russia. “America is not standing by Ukraine out of charity, but because it is in our strategic interest.”

The initiative for the summit came from the Swiss government and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “We managed to give diplomacy a chance,” Zelensky said before the opening of the summit.

The first steps towards peace are to be discussed by tomorrow. The security of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant occupied by Russia and the rejection of the use of nuclear weapons will also be discussed. There will also be discussions about Ukraine’s grain exports via the Black Sea, which are particularly important for the so-called global south, and prisoner exchanges.

Biden prefers campaign event

The Swiss hosts had been trying for months to get as many countries as possible to attend the summit. 160 were invited, more than 90 accepted, and most of them were represented by heads of state and government. Scholz traveled directly from the G7 summit in southern Italy to Switzerland. US President Joe Biden, on the other hand, opted not to attend in favor of a campaign fundraising event in Los Angeles and is now being represented by his deputy Harris.

Even though they did not invite Russia, the Swiss hosts tried to get as many countries friendly to Russia to the table as possible. The result is sobering. Russia’s most important ally, China, has completely cancelled. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the long journey to Europe to attend the G7 summit on Friday, but they skipped the Swiss conference that followed immediately afterwards. Brazil is now only there as an observer, and according to the list of participants, India only sent a state secretary from the foreign ministry. The national security advisor is attending for South Africa.

Next conference in Saudi Arabia?

The highest-ranking representative from the countries that are still friends with Russia despite the war of aggression is now Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. His country is considered a possible host of a follow-up conference, in which Russia could also participate.

But it is still completely unclear when the time will be right for this. “We are still a long way from that,” said Scholz before the summit began. The peace process is a delicate plant that needs to be watered now. “But we want the garden to bloom and thrive.”

The Swiss organizers of the meeting hope that a follow-up conference will be decided this year. “As an international community, we can help prepare the ground for direct talks between the warring parties,” said President Viola Amherd.

Serious efforts to find a peace solution between Russia and Ukraine have so far only been made shortly after the invasion in 2022. Before the Swiss conference, the US newspaper “New York Times” published the draft agreements at the time. Putin had tried on Friday to present them as an agreement ready for signature.

According to the documents, Ukraine was prepared to forego joining NATO and remain non-aligned. The issue of the Crimean peninsula, which had been annexed by Russia, was to be postponed. However, Moscow tried to undermine the security guarantees that Kiev had hoped for from other countries such as the USA. As the New York Times reported, several contemporary historians have come to the conclusion in recent months that both sides were far from reaching an agreement in 2022.

Source: Stern

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