Ukraine Summit Paves Way For Peace Talks With Russia

Dozens of countries gathered for a historic international peace conference in Ukraine on Sunday agreed that Kyiv should engage in negotiations with Russia to end the crisis while firmly maintaining Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.

More than two years after Russia’s invasion, leaders and top officials from over 90 countries gathered at a Swiss Alpine resort for a two-day summit aimed at resolving Europe’s worst crisis since World War II.

“We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties,” stated a final communique, supported by the vast majority of the countries that attended the summit at the Burgenstock complex overlooking Lake Lucerne.

The statement also maintained the “territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine”.

The proclamation also called for a full exchange of prisoners of war and the repatriation of deported children.

However, not all guests supported the agreement, with India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates not appearing on a list of supporting states presented on screens at the summit.

After world leaders came together to lend their support on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed hope for international agreement on a proposal to stop the war, which he may later bring to Moscow.

Kremlin reiterates Putin call

The conference on Sunday focused on food security, preventing a nuclear disaster, and returning deported children from Russia, as countries discussed steps toward ending the war.

The summit, which was boycotted by Russia and its ally China, occurred at a time when Ukraine was fighting on the battlefield, outmanned and outgunned.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Kyiv’s effective submission as a prerequisite for peace talks.

Putin’s demand that Ukraine withdraw from the country’s south and east was universally ignored at the meeting.

However, the Kremlin reiterated Sunday that Ukraine “reflect” on Putin’s requests, citing the current military situation on the ground.

“The current dynamic of the situation at the front shows us clearly that it’s continuing to worsen for the Ukrainians,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“It’s probable that a politician who puts the interests of his country above his own and those of his masters would reflect on such a proposal.”

Russia on Sunday claimed its troops had captured Zagrine village in southern Ukraine, continuing its progress on the front line.

Children, nuclear fears

The Burgenstock discussions were centered on areas of common ground between Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan, announced in late 2022, and UN resolutions on the war, which received considerable support.

The narrow scope was intended to gain broad support by focusing solely on issues covered by international law and the United Nations Charter.

On Sunday, countries formed three working groups to address nuclear safety and security, humanitarian challenges, food security, and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea.

The humanitarian session focused on concerns including prisoners of war, civil detainees, internees, and the fate of missing individuals.

It also addressed the repatriation of minors captured from occupied Ukrainian territory to Russia.

Food security discussions focused on the decline in agricultural production and exports, which has had a global impact because Ukraine was one of the world’s breadbaskets before to the war.

The discussions focused on not only the loss of fertile land by military activities, but also the persistent risks posed by mines and unexploded munitions.

Artillery strikes on ships in the Black Sea have increased the cost of maritime transport.

The nuclear safety panel investigated the precarious circumstances surrounding the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, particularly in Zaporizhzhia, where all reactors have been shut down since mid-April.

The talks focused on decreasing the risk of an accident caused by a malfunction or an attack on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

“When a just and sustainable peace comes, we will all be there to help Ukraine rebuild,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the final address from invited leaders.

“The people who lost their lives, the families destroyed, they won’t be able to bring them back. That’s the most painful consequence of war: the human suffering.

“This illegal war by Russia needs to end,” he said, while accepting that “it won’t be easy”.

Second summit

Minds also turned to a potential second summit, at which Ukraine wants to present Russia with an internationally-agreed plan for peace.

Swiss President Viola Amherd said in her closing remarks: “One key question remains: how and when can Russia be included in the process?

“We have heard it in many of your statements: a lasting solution must involve both parties,” she said, while acknowledging that “the road ahead is long and challenging”.

Zelensky did not say whether he was prepared to engage with Putin directly in talks to end the conflict, though he has in the past ruled out direct talks with him.

“Russia should join this process because Russia is responsible for the starting of the process that’s called the war,” Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili told reporters.

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