Ukraine summit opens in Switzerland, seeking path to peace

Ukraine summit opens in Switzerland, seeking path to peace
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at Switzerland’s luxury Burgenstock resort for the Ukraine peace summit

BURGENSTOCK (Switzerland), June 16 (NNN-AGENCIES) — World leaders were joining Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Switzerland for a summit on peace in his country. But without Russia in attendance, it is being seen as merely a first step in a long process.

The Swiss hosts have sought to temper expectations at the two-day gathering, with an agenda laying the groundwork for a path to peace – with future summits envisioned, eventually involving Moscow.

But Zelenskyy himself expressed high hopes for the outcome.

“We will see history being made here at the summit,” he said on social media platform Telegram, as he greeted presidents and prime ministers arriving at the luxury Burgenstock resort high above Lake Lucerne.

“Together, we are making the first step toward just peace based on the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

But in a combative speech Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the conference and demanded that Kyiv effectively surrender before any actual peace negotiations.

Zelenskyy branded Putin’s demands a territorial “ultimatum” reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler, while NATO and the United States also immediately rejected the hardline conditions.

The conference, convening exactly 100 countries and global institutions, comes at a perilous moment for exhausted Ukrainians and outgunned soldiers, more than two years since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

More than 50 heads of state and government figure among the attendees, including all of the G7 leaders who have been meeting in Italy – with one notable exception.

US President Joe Biden is instead sending his Vice President Kamala Harris, who announced more than US$1.5 billion in new aid for Ukraine, mainly for its energy sector and in humanitarian assistance as she arrived in a US Army helicopter.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan are attending, as is the European Union chief and the leaders of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Fiji, Finland, Ghana, Kenya and Poland.

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

China is absent, insisting it will not take part without Moscow’s presence.

Zelensky arrived at Burgenstock on Friday evening after the G7 summit agreed to offer a new US$50 billion loan for Ukraine, using profits from the interest on frozen Russian assets.

Leaders of the Group of Seven rich democracies said they would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

Zelenskyy said the new loan would go towards “both defence and reconstruction”, while Putin branded the move as “theft”, warning it would “not go unpunished”.

Meanwhile, a landmark 10-year security deal signed by Zelenskyy and Biden on Thursday will see the United States provide Ukraine with military aid and training, with Zelenskyy calling it a bridge to joining the NATO defence alliance.

Also on Friday, the EU’s 27 member states agreed “in principle” on beginning accession negotiations with Ukraine.

The summit is being held at the ultra-exclusive Burgenstock hotel complex perched high above Lake Lucerne in classic picture-postcard Swiss scenery.

The summit aims to find paths towards a lasting peace for Ukraine, based on international law and the United Nations Charter; a possible framework to achieve this goal; and a roadmap as to how both parties could come together in a future peace process.

A plenary session involving all delegations was held on Saturday.

On Sunday, three topics will be discussed in detail in working groups: nuclear safety, freedom of navigation and food security, and humanitarian aspects.

These will look at Black Sea shipping, prisoners of war, civilian detainees and deported children.

A second summit is envisaged. Zelenskyy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Tuesday that Kyiv hoped Russia would attend and receive a “joint plan” presented by the other attendees. — NNN-AGENCIES


Related Articles