In Switzerland, little progress at the first major meeting on peace in Ukraine

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, 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 hold a conference press during the Ukraine Peace Summit, in Stansstad, Switzerland, June 16, 2024. ALESSANDRO DELLA VALLE / VIA REUTERS

How can we measure the success or failure of the first major international conference aimed at broadening the base of states favorable to a peace process in Ukraine, which until now was limited to the barely expanded circle of “Western” countries, unwavering allies of kyiv since the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022? Swiss diplomacy welcomed, on Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16, around a hundred delegations, half of them European, in the luxurious Bürgenstock Alpine hotel complex, owned by a Qatari hotel chain. According to the President of the Swiss Confederation, Viola Amherd, “the summit allowed a large majority of participants to agree on a common communiqué”which was not a foregone conclusion.

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But one question, the main one, remains, she admitted: “when and how to involve Russia”. For weeks, the Kremlin has continued to denigrate this initiative and, as a result, did not receive an invitation to participate in the conference, which China for its part dodged.

Initialed by 79 states, the final declaration was therefore not signed by any of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Brazil, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia abstained. The latter, which could host the next “peace conference” in Ukraine, perhaps in a different format, was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, while Brasilia and Delhi had only delegated second-level diplomats to Switzerland. rank or observers.

A text with modest ambitions

As expected, the text reaffirms “the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine”. He denounces “the militarization of food security”, warns of the nuclear danger, particularly around the Zaporizhia power plant, and calls for the return of Ukrainian children deported by Russia. So many notions that have been known for a long time, which mark neither an advance in reflection nor “first steps”, according to the established formula, heard on multiple occasions behind the scenes of the summit.

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On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed the hope of uniting the international community around a peace proposal that he could possibly present to Moscow. On Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded in his own way, saying that he “should think about the last proposition” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, namely a pure and simple capitulation of Ukraine, which would not be “not an ultimatum, but an peace initiative that takes into account the realities on the ground. »

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