Ukraine and Allies Plan Peace Summit Without Russia

From a Wall Street Journal story by Bojan Pancevski, Laurence Norman, and James Marson headlined “Ukraine and Allies Plan Peace Summit Without Russia”:

Ukraine and its allies are planning a summit of global leaders that would exclude Russia, aimed at garnering support for Kyiv’s terms for ending the war, according to a senior Ukrainian presidential adviser and European diplomats.

Plans for a gathering, while preliminary, have strong support from European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron who are lobbying for participation by countries that have sided with Russia or declined to take a position on the war.

“We require a unified plan of the responsible civilized world that really wants to live in peace,” said Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff. Yermak told The Wall Street Journal that direct negotiations with Russia weren’t possible as long as its troops remain in the country. Ukraine won’t compromise on its territorial integrity, he said.

European officials say they are working with Kyiv to recraft Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan in ways that will make it more acceptable to other global powers such as India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China.

“The process is not possible without the whole world, including the leaders of the global south,” said Yermak, who is Zelensky’s top adviser.

Kyiv has made a concerted effort in recent months to engage with countries such as China, Brazil and India. Ukraine is ready to talk with all countries and hear their opinions, Yermak said, including representatives of China and Brazil, who visited this month.

Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan calls for restoring Ukraine’s control over its territory, returning prisoners of war and prosecuting war crimes. It also proposes addressing nuclear safety, which it says is compromised by Russia’s occupation of a nuclear power plant, and food security, by protecting grain exports that are hampered by Russia’s invasion.

President Biden and other top leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would be invited for the meeting, which Western diplomats hope can take place shortly before NATO’s annual summit that starts July 11. That gathering, in Vilnius, Lithuania, will focus on military support for Ukraine and Kyiv’s future relationship with the organization.

Zelensky early this year asked Macron to help him with international outreach to leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping, according to European diplomats. The talks later matured into plans to organize a conference, the people said. Macron has offered to host the conference in Paris, and Denmark and Sweden have also proposed hosting it, these people said.

No clear list of attendees has been established, but European officials have fanned out to capitals of leading world powers in recent weeks, seeking to bring Brazil, India, China and other non-Western countries on board.

One official involved in the discussions said they were hopeful that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would attend, but they were much less sure about Xi.

Modi has at times expressed his concerns about the war. Xi has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin several times since the war started but took more than a year to call Zelensky. Xi made the call after Macron visited him in Beijing. Chinese officials have repeatedly underscored their partnership with Russia and with Putin personally.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva earlier this month sent former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to Kyiv and Moscow for talks, but he didn’t meet with Zelensky in Japan this month when both attended a Group of Seven summit.

A conference would build on Ukraine’s continuing diplomatic outreach to traditional allies of Russia: Zelensky recently traveled to a summit of the Arab League, while his foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has toured African countries.

The Western effort comes as other countries with far closer ties to Russia have sought to take the lead in diplomatic work to end the conflict. Both Brazil and China have sent peace envoys to Moscow and European capitals for discussions on ending the war. Neither country has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and both have advocated a quick cease-fire, which would leave Russia controlling swaths of Ukraine, for now.

The peace meeting would seek to place Ukraine and its allies back at the center of that international diplomacy. European officials aim to ensure that future talks take Kyiv’s plan as the diplomatic reference point.

“No Russians but everybody else will be welcomed,” a senior European diplomat said of summit planning.

The timing of the conference ahead of the NATO meeting would send a signal to the rest of the world that while Europe and the U.S. will keep supporting Ukraine with arms, they are also seeking diplomatic solutions to a conflict whose economic spillovers have hurt much of the developing world. Western countries have come under fire from rivals including China and Brazil for sending arms to Ukraine, which those countries say is fueling the conflict.

The idea for the conference was initially hatched in a conversation between Macron and Zelensky in Paris in February, European diplomats said, where the French leader pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to accept that there would eventually need to be peace talks with the Kremlin.

Macron raised the issue with Xi during a recent visit to Beijing. The idea was also floated at this month’s meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven advanced democracies conference in Japan, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials. Zelensky also attended that meeting, as did the leaders of India, Brazil and Indonesia.

On Tuesday, Zelensky spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. A German statement said the two leaders would stay in close contact “with a view to mobilizing global support for a peace solution.”

Senior Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said they would continue their fight against Russia unless Moscow is prepared to engage with its peace plan, which rejects a temporary cease-fire and calls for Russian forces to be withdrawn before talks start.

Russia has said it is open to peace talks but on the condition that Ukraine effectively recognize the territories it has annexed. U.S. officials have said recently that they believe the likelihood for meaningful diplomacy before the end of the year is low.

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