Ukraine summit sees hard road to peace as way forward uncertain
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Ukraine summit sees hard road to peace as way forward uncertain

BUERGENSTOCK: Western powers and their allies at a summit in Switzerland denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday (June 16), but they failed to persuade major non-aligned states to join their final statement, and no country came forward to host a sequel.

Over 90 countries attended the two-day talks at a Swiss Alpine resort at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, billed as a “peace summit” even though Moscow was not invited.

Russia ridiculed the event from afar. A decision by China to stay away all but assured that the summit would fail to achieve Ukraine’s goal of persuading major countries from the “global South” to join in isolating Russia.

Brazil attended only as an “observer”. And in the end, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa all withheld their signatures from the summit communique, even though some contentious issues were omitted in the hope of drawing wider support.

Ariel Cohen, a nonresident senior fellow at think tank Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, said the nations that withheld were “just there to show their flags”, and had various reasons – including trade – for refusing to join the final statement. 

“Russia is an ally of Iran. Saudi Arabia feels threatened by Iran, as does the UAE. They’re trying to balance Russia and China on one hand, and the US on the other. The US does not always manage its relationship with its key Gulf allies well,” he told CNA’s Asia First.

“It is also disappointing that an important democracy like India did not want to sign a communique that would clearly state that Ukraine deserves territorial integrity.”

Still, Cohen said the summit met its intended goal of giving prominence to Russia’s continuous aggression and offensive against Ukraine.

It provided Kyiv with a chance to showcase the support from Western allies that it says it needs to keep fighting against a far bigger enemy.

“We are responding to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only with a full-scale defense of human life, but also with full-scale diplomacy,” Zelenskyy said.

Leaders including US Vice President Kamala Harris, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron gathered at the mountaintop resort of Buergenstock. US President Joe Biden, in Europe for other events last week, did not attend despite public invitations from Zelensky.

The frontlines in Ukraine have barely moved since the end of 2022, despite tens of thousands of dead on both sides in relentless trench warfare, the bloodiest fighting in Europe since World War Two.

In her closing remarks, Swiss President Viola Amherd warned that the “road ahead is long and challenging”.

Source: CNA