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India, Saudi Arabia and other countries opt out of signing Ukraine declaration in Switzerland

The event was aimed to build support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula, albeit in the absence of Russia and China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier met Zelenskyy during the G7 Summit in Italy, where the latter thanked him for sending a delegation for peace talks.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Bern (Switzerland) Updated on: June 17, 2024 6:04 IST
Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland
Image Source : REUTERS Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the peace summit in Switzerland

India was among several countries - Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates - who did not sign the final communique at the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland. The Indian delegation was led by Pavan Kapoor, Secretary (West) of the Ministry of External Affairs in the discussions.

Switzerland, which hosted the summit, said over 90 countries took part in the talks, and the vast majority of them signed up to the communique, according to a list which the Swiss organisers posted at the close of proceedings. Brazil, which was listed as an "observer" on the list of attendees, also did not feature as a signatory.

"The Indian delegation attended the Opening and Closing Plenary Sessions of the Summit. India did not associate itself with any communique/document emerging from this Summit," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

"India’s participation in the Summit, as well as in the preceding NSA/Political Director-level meetings based on Ukraine’s Peace Formula, was in line with our consistent approach to facilitate a lasting and peaceful resolution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. We continue to believe that such a resolution requires a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict. In this regard, India will continue to remain engaged with all stakeholders as well as both the parties to contribute to all earnest efforts to bring about an early and abiding peace," it further said.

 

Western powers and other nations pushed for a consensus on how to end the war in Ukraine, but some countries expectedly refused to back its final conclusions, paving an uncertain path ahead, and there was no clarity on whether future talks would involve Russia. Moscow had labelled the summit a waste of time and instead put forward rival proposals.

What does the Ukraine final declaration say?

The draft of the final communique in the Ukraine peace summit refers to Russia's invasion as a "war" - a label Moscow rejects - and calls for Ukraine's control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and its Azov Sea ports to be restored. However, it omitted tougher issues of what a post-war settlement for Ukraine would look like, whether Ukraine can join NATO and what troop withdrawals from both sides would look like.

"The ongoing war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine continues to cause large-scale human suffering and destruction, and to create risks and crises with global repercussions for the world... We had a fruitful, comprehensive and constructive exchange of various views on pathways towards a framework for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on international law, including the United Nations Charter," read the communique seen by Reuters.

The declaration also insisted that any threat or use of nuclear weapons in the context of the ongoing war against Ukraine is inadmissible and attacks on merchant ships in ports and along the entire route, as well as against civilian ports and civilian port infrastructure, are unacceptable. It also called for the release of all prisoners of war and the active involvement of all parties in dialogue.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the declaration may not achieve unanimous support from all the parties who participated in the high-level summit. "In my view, the communique will not be signed by everyone, because again it's a question of the specific choice of words, but even those who won't sign it have all made clear that their position is the same, that the war must end," he said.

Many Western leaders voiced condemnation of the invasion and rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's demands for parts of Ukraine as a condition for peace. However, some leaders departed early, and talks on Sunday turned towards pursuing a joint position on nuclear and food security, and the return of prisoners of war and children removed from Ukraine during the conflict.

What is India's position on the matter?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the G7 Summit on Friday, where he reiterated that India would continue to do everything within its means to support a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict and that the way to peace is through "dialogue and diplomacy".

Zelenskyy briefed PM Modi on various aspects of the Russia-Ukraine war and the Swiss peace conference. The Ukrainian President had pushed Modi for months to attend the summit, although India had not provided any confirmation before. Zelenskyy on Friday confirmed that PM Modi has sent a high-level delegation to the peace summit and thanked him for it.

During the meeting, PM Modi told Zelenskyy that India believes in a "human-centric" approach to finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine. He described the meeting with the Ukrainian president as "very productive" and said India is eager to "further cement" bilateral relations with Ukraine.

Ukraine's peace plan launched by Zelenskyy outlines 10 proposals that encapsulate the president's step-by-step vision to end the full-scale invasion, which began in February 2022. The plan includes ambitious calls, including the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied Ukrainian territory, the cessation of hostilities and restoring Ukraine's state borders with Russia, including Crimea.

Putin's truce conditions rejected

In a significant announcement, Putin on Friday promised to "immediately" order a ceasefire in Ukraine and begin peace talks if Kyiv starts withdrawing from four regions occupied by Moscow's forces and renounces its plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). He said his proposal is aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it", stressing that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

These conditions were rejected by Ukraine as "manipulative" and "absurd". Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who hosted the G7 Summit that reached a $50 billion loan deal for Ukraine, dismissed the offer as "propaganda". She also said the themes of nuclear safety, food security, and prisoner exchanges amounted to “minimum conditions” for negotiations with Russia.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | World leaders gather in Switzerland for Ukraine peace summit. What is India's position?

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