Kiev will not engage in direct negotiations with Moscow, seeking mediators

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/EPA

Kiev will not engage in direct negotiations with Russia, but is working to build a coalition of mediators to help end the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said at a weekend peace summit to which Russia was not invited. "Politico". 

"Russia is not here, because if Russia was interested in peace, there would be no war," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during the first plenary meeting of the summit.

There is hope in Kiev that a broad coalition, including the inclusion of some pro-Russian countries, can push through Zelensky's 10-point peace formula and at some point be able to force Moscow to end the war.

"This is an introductory summit aimed at bringing together countries that are ready to act to bring a just peace to Ukraine," Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office, told reporters at the summit.

According to Zhovkva, the Ukrainians want to include countries that maintain relations with Russia, because they could influence Moscow in promoting Ukraine's peace proposals.

"During this first meeting, we decided to focus on three elements out of 10 – nuclear security, food security and the return of our people to Russia – because today most of the world community is united around those three," Zhovkva said.

Although China, the main country that has some influence over Russia, did not attend the summit, Zhovkva said, Ukraine still hopes to involve Beijing at some point.

"Other countries also have tools to influence Russia that they can use. The goal of the world community will be to deprive Russia of the tools of aggression in all spheres. After all, Russian aggression continues not only on the battlefield," Zhovkva said, claiming he could not give details because it would help Russia disrupt Ukraine's plans.

But participants in the first plenary session on Saturday agreed that at some point Russia must be involved in the peace process. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday issued a new set of demands aimed at ending the conflict, which Moscow started with its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Kiev rejected Putin's proposals, which included an ultimatum to Ukraine to give up four regions.

"We have a Ukrainian peace plan in front of us, and Russia recently shared some conditions. Each side sees the other's steps as a continuation of the military effort," Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said.

He also cited the Black Sea Grain Initiative as a diplomatic success because it involved Russia and Ukraine and provided predictability for both countries.

"A lot can be learned from this example," Fidan said.

Although Moscow complained that the grain deal was unfair and eventually withdrew from it in the summer of 2023, Ukraine later rebuilt the Black Sea export route on its own, methodically destroying the Russian fleet that had previously blockaded Ukrainian ports.

Kiev hopes Saudi Arabia will host the next peace summit on Ukraine, as it is well placed to help engage Beijing and has good relations with Russia. The date and terms of that conference have not yet been fixed.

"Zelensky made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia at the last minute before the summit in Switzerland and at the last minute convinced the Saudis, who were not planning to come to Burgenstock, to change their minds," said Zhovkva.

"We hope that this summit gives us the basis for a political path to resolve the conflict." We have shown our willingness to mitigate it as close to a solution as possible. "Any credible process will need Russia's participation," Prince Faisal bin Al Saud, the Saudi foreign minister, said during a meeting on Saturday.



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