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

The event, aimed to build support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula, is seen as merely symbolic in the absence of Russia and China. PM Modi reiterated to Zelenskyy on Friday that the conflict can only be resolved through "dialogue and diplomacy".

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Bern (Switzerland) Updated on: June 15, 2024 14:00 IST
Zelenskyy arrives at Swiss peace summit
Image Source : REUTERS Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ambassador of Switzerland to Ukraine Felix Baumann on their way to the Summit on Peace in Ukraine.

Bern: World leaders are gathering in Switzerland on Saturday for the globally-anticipated peace talks aimed at pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine, even though the absence of Moscow and China is expected to blunt the potential impact of the discussions. About 90 delegations, including a handful of international organisations like the United Nations, will attend the peace talks.

Russia has dismissed the event as a waste of time and had no interest in attending the summit, saying its absence would not establish a good precedent for peace in Ukraine. The Swiss insist Russia must be involved at some point, and hope it will join the process one day. Ukrainians, too, are considering that possibility. The conference, underpinned by elements of a 10-point peace formula presented by Zelenskyy in late 2022, is thus unlikely to produce major results and is seen as a largely symbolic effort on the part of Kyiv to rally the international community and project strength against its better-armed and numbered adversary.

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

"The Peace Summit will provide an opportunity for the global majority to take specific steps in areas that matter for everyone in the world: nuclear safety, food security, and the return of prisoners of war and all deported persons, including deported Ukrainian children," said Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy's peace formula for Ukraine

Switzerland, which took on the summit at the behest of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wants to pave the way for a future peace process that includes Russia. China declined to attend the meeting as Russia was not present there. The two-day summit is expected to build support for Zelenskyy's peace proposals, including the full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden, who was wrapping up a visit to Italy on Friday for a Group of Seven summit, opted to dispatch Harris and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said that “without Russia's participation, without an honest and responsible dialogue with us, it is impossible to reach a peaceful solution in Ukraine and in general regarding global and European security.”

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 says he will order ceasefire if...

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.”

"As soon as Kyiv declares that it is ready for such a decision and begins the actual withdrawal of troops from these regions, as well as officially notifies that they abandon plans to join NATO, an order to cease fire and begin negotiations will immediately follow from our side, literally at the same minute," Putin further said, expressing doubts on whether Kyiv would take actions that are not based on Western orders.

The conditions were swiftly rejected by Ukraine, which said the conditions were tantamount to surrender and that peace can only be based on a full withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of its territorial integrity. Regardless, Putin's remarks represented a rare occasion in which he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, but it didn't include any new demands.

What makes it more unlikely for Zelenskyy to accept Putin's demands is that the US and Ukraine recently reached a bilateral security agreement at the G7 Summit in Italy. Negotiators for the group have also reached an agreement on how to provide Ukraine with up to $50 billion backed by frozen Russian assets. The deal, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, aims to commit future US administrations to support Ukraine. 

What is India's position in the conflict?

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 find 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.

(with inputs from agencies)

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