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Diplomacy Watch: Denmark offers to hold Ukraine peace talks in July

Diplomacy Watch: Denmark offers to hold Ukraine peace talks in July

The Danish foreign minister said a summit would need buy-in from outside of Europe to succeed.

Analysis | Europe

The Danish foreign minister said Monday that his country would host a peace summit in July if the time is right for talks.

“If Ukraine finds that the time has come to have such a meeting, that would be fantastic,” Lokke Rasmussen said at a European Union event in Brussels. “And then Denmark would obviously like to host the meeting.”

Notably, Rasmussen said that “we need to put some effort into creating a global commitment to organize such a meeting.” This would mean getting support from China, Brazil, and India, all of which have expressed interest in getting Ukraine and Russia to the negotiating table.

Rasmussen’s comments mark the first time that an EU and NATO member country has thrown its weight behind the idea of inclusive talks since the early days of the conflict, suggesting a potential shift in how the continent views the path forward in Ukraine.

There is, however, one significant gap: the Danish diplomat expressed doubt that Russia would attend, telling reporters that it is “hard to see” Moscow joining the initiative. Rasmussen did not clarify his reasoning on this point, but one could speculate that he is unsure whether Moscow would be open to the timing and venue of the talks.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise appearance at the Group of 7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, this past weekend, where he pressed leaders to support his “peace formula” and secured U.S. support for providing F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. 

In a joint statement following the summit, the G7 leaders called on China “to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine.”

Zelensky also made a stopover in Saudi Arabia for the Arab League Summit in an attempt to drum up support from Arab leaders, many of whom have chosen to maintain a neutral stance toward the conflict. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took a simultaneous trip to Africa, highlighting Kyiv’s renewed determination to win hearts and minds across the Global South.

But some of these efforts went more smoothly than others. Zelensky was reportedly set to meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a prominent booster of peace talks, at the G7, but the Ukrainian leader appears to have stood Lula up. 

When asked if he was disappointed to have missed the meeting, Zelensky joked that “I think he was disappointed.” The high-profile snub could put Lula’s peace efforts on ice, according to Andre Pagliarini, a non-resident fellow at the Quincy Institute and professor at Hampden-Sydney College.

“[R]elations between Brazil and Ukraine are colder now than they were last week,” Pagliarini wrote in RS. “Indeed, one might even conclude that the Brazilian president is now giving up on the prospect of contributing to a formal peace between Russia and Ukraine.”

In other diplomatic news related to the war in Ukraine:

— Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has renewed his push to protect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as Ukraine winds up its counteroffensive, according to the Washington Post. Given that Russia and Ukraine have both balked at the idea of creating a demilitarized zone around the facility, Grossi has reportedly drafted a more modest proposal that would ban certain activities near the plant. The United Nations Security Council is expected to hear Grossi’s pitch at a meeting before the end of this month.

— Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Matteo Zuppi — a prominent Italian cleric — as his peace envoy for the war in Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zuppi, who is among the frontrunners to succeed Francis as pope, has a long history of pushing for peace around the world and even became an honorary citizen of Mozambique after a successful effort to end that country’s brutal civil war. The Italian cardinal praised Pope Francis’s approach to the war during a speech on Wednesday. “War is a pandemic,” Zuppi said. “It involves us all.”

— Hungarian President Viktor Orban said Wednesday that, given that NATO will not fight Russia directly, “there is no victory for the poor Ukrainians on the battlefield,” according to Al Jazeera. “The war can be stopped only if the Russians can make an agreement with the U.S.,” Orban continued. “In Europe, we are not happy with that, but it’s the only way out.”

— European leaders are struggling to build support for Ukraine in South America, where many countries have preferred to maintain a neutral stance on the conflict, according to Politico. An unnamed Chilean official told the outlet that the war is “a topic that needs to be solved by the big powers, not something we can do from the end of the world.”

U.S. State Department news:

In a Monday press conference, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller addressed allegations that U.S. weapons were used in an attack on the Russian town of Belgorod. “We have made very clear to the Ukrainians that we don’t enable or encourage attacks outside Ukrainians’ borders, but I do think it’s important to take a step back and remind everyone, and remind the world, that, of course, it is Russia that launched this war,” Miller said, adding that “it is up to Ukraine to decide how they want to conduct their military operations.”

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