World leaders join Ukraine summit in test of Kyiv's diplomatic clout

June 15, 2024 3:34 pm

[Source: Reuters]

World leaders gather in Switzerland on Saturday for a summit aimed at pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine, but the absence of powerful allies of Moscow such as China will blunt its potential impact.

Dozens of allies of Ukraine will take part in the summit, but China is staying away after Russia was frozen out of proceedings on the grounds it had dismissed the event as a waste of time and had no interest in attending.

Without China, hopes of isolating Moscow have faded, while recent military reverses have put Kyiv on the back foot. The war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has also diverted attention from Ukraine.

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The talks are expected to focus on broader concerns triggered by the war, such as food and nuclear security and freedom of navigation, and a draft of the final declaration identifies Russia as the aggressor in the conflict, sources said.

“The summit risks showing the limits of Ukrainian diplomacy,” said Richard Gowan, U.N. Director at the International Crisis Group.

“Nonetheless, it is also a chance for Ukraine to remind the world that it is defending the principles of the U.N. Charter.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow – demands Kyiv swiftly rejected as tantamount to surrender.

Putin’s conditions apparently reflected Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

Moscow casts what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West reject this and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.

Switzerland, which took on the summit at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wants to pave the way for a future peace process that includes Russia.