President Zelensky Says Hopes For ‘Just Peace As Soon As Possible’ At Swiss Summit

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he hoped to find avenues to a “just peace” as quickly as possible, as the first international summit on ways to end Russia’s war in Ukraine began Saturday.

More than 50 international leaders joined Zelensky at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland for a two-day peace summit, albeit with Moscow rejecting the event, the summit’s modest objectives were limited to laying the basis for the conclusion of the conflict, which is now in its third year.

“I believe that we will witness history being made here at the summit. May a just peace be established as soon as possible,” Zelensky said as the event began.

“Everything that will be agreed upon at the summit today will be part of the peacemaking process.

“We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace.”

The summit is aimed at trying to agree a basic international platform for eventual peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

 

Putin demands effective surrender

Swiss President Viola Amherd said future summits were envisioned, eventually involving Russia.

“We will not be able to negotiate or even proclaim peace for Ukraine here on the Burgenstock, but we wish to inspire a process for a just and lasting peace, and we wish to take concrete steps in this direction,” she said.

“We can prepare the ground for direct talks between the warring parties: that is what we are here for.”

However, in a confrontational speech Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted the summit, demanding that Kyiv effectively capitulate before any meaningful peace talks could begin.

Zelensky remarked on Saturday that the only person who desired the war was Putin. However, the world is stronger.”

NATO and the United States also promptly rejected Putin’s stringent demands.

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd give a press conference during a Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne in central Switzerland, on June 15, 2024. – The two-day gathering brings together Ukrainian President and more than 50 other heads of state and government, to try to work out a way towards a peace process for Ukraine — albeit without Russia. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

92 countries taking part

The summit, which includes 100 countries and global institutions, comes at a critical time for tired Ukrainians and outgunned military, more than two years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The Presidents of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan are in attendance, as well as the President of the European Union and the leaders of Colombia, Chile, Finland, Ghana, Kenya, and Poland.

US President Joe Biden dispatched his Vice President, Kamala Harris, who offered more than $1.5 billion in fresh aid to Ukraine, mostly for its energy industry and humanitarian support.

Early arrivals included Argentinian President Javier Milei, as well as the presidents of Fiji and Ecuador.

Russia’s BRICS partners, Brazil and South Africa, will only send one ambassador, while India will be represented at the ministerial level.

China is missing, claiming that it will not participate without Moscow’s involvement.

Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the RAND think tank, said of the summit: “Russia is clearly going out of its way to demonstrate its pique with it… That tells you something.

“Avoiding the expansion of the pro-Ukraine coalition — they’re concerned about this,” he told AFP.

 

Low hopes on front line

After almost a year of stalemate, Ukraine was forced to abandon dozens of frontline settlements this spring, with Russian troops holding a significant advantage in manpower and resources.

Near Ukraine’s embattled eastern front, hopes for any major breakthrough are nearly nil.

“I’d like to hope that it will bring some changes in the future. But, as experience shows, nothing comes of it,” Maksym, a tank commander in the Donetsk region, told AFP.

And in Kyiv, Victoria, a 36-year-old energy industry worker, said she was “exhausted” by the war and wanted to believe the summit would help end it.

But, she said, “I’m a realist in life, so I don’t have high hopes.”

 

Nuclear, food, humanitarian focus

The summit intends to identify paths to long-term peace for Ukraine based on international law and the United Nations Charter, as well as a viable framework for achieving this goal and a road map for how both parties might collaborate in a future peace process.

On Saturday, all delegations will gather for a plenary session.

On Sunday, three areas will be thoroughly explored in working groups: nuclear safety, freedom of passage and food security, and humanitarian issues.

Ukraine expects that Russia would attend a second conference and accept a joint plan provided by the other participants.

The Burgenstock meeting follows the G7 conference, at which the seven affluent democracies agreed to provide Ukraine a new $50 billion loan based on income from interest on blocked Russian assets.

Zelensky and Biden inked a significant 10-year security agreement on Thursday, under which the United States will provide military aid and training to Ukraine.

On Friday, the European Union’s 27 member states agreed “in principle” to begin accession negotiations with Ukraine.

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