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22 May, 2024 08:11

Zelensky fears Russia could hijack Ukraine peace summit

Moscow could derail Kiev’s diplomatic campaign by presenting an alternative to its ‘peace formula’, the president has said
Zelensky fears Russia could hijack Ukraine peace summit

Russia must not be present at the Swiss-hosted Ukraine peace summit next month because it could gain the support of other countries and hijack Kiev’s agenda, President Vladimir Zelensky has said.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Zelensky weighed in on the prospects for the high-profile June 15-16 meeting on Lake Lucerne, which is expected to draw at least 50 delegations. Moscow has not been invited, although it has said it would not go even if it were, arguing that the summit will be devoted to promoting Ukraine’s “peace formula.”

The ten-point initiative calls for Moscow to withdraw from all territory Kiev claims as its own and for a tribunal to be set up to prosecute Russian officials for alleged war crimes. Moscow has dismissed the initiative as “detached from reality.”

According to Zelensky, the Swiss-hosted summit is meant to put international pressure on Russia, with nuclear security high on the agenda. He added that Kiev needs to win the support of a large number of countries, after which a joint plan of action could be developed.

”Why is Russia not involved? Because they will block everything. They will disrupt everything, they will not calm down until they show one or another plan for ending the war, which will be an ultimatum,” Zelensky claimed. “That’s why it cannot be the agenda of Russia.”

The Ukrainian leader added that if Moscow is allowed to seize the initiative, it will be able to leverage its economic ties and diplomatic clout to achieve its desired outcome. For this reason, Zelensky argued, the participants of the summit should develop a plan without Russia, and then hand it over to Moscow via intermediaries. “Then, Russia will have to answer to the global majority,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that while Moscow is ready to hold talks on Ukraine, it will not attend the summit in Switzerland, as the sole purpose is to impose an “ultimatum” on Russia. He added that the meeting completely ignores other peace initiatives, and that Switzerland – which has taken part in the Western sanctions on Russia – has lost its neutral status.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Moscow seeks the “denazification” and demilitarization of Ukraine, which implies neutral status for the country and a rejection of its ambitions to join NATO. Moscow views the US-led military bloc’s expansions towards its borders as an existential threat.