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Diplomacy Watch: A peace summit without Russia

Diplomacy Watch: A peace summit without Russia

Ukraine and allies eye July for meeting with world leaders aimed at building up support for Kyiv.

Europe

Ukraine is increasing its efforts to shore up support for its vision for ending the war with Russia by planning a peace summit with world leaders this summer, the Wall Street Journal reports. Kyiv has received strong support from the United States and Europe since the invasion, but its leaders have recently started to engage more with countries who have so far remained neutral on the conflict. 

Following President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the Arab League Summit and his foreign minister’s trip to Africa last month, Ukraine is now looking towards emerging powers who have expressed interest in playing a mediation role between Kyiv and Moscow, namely Brazil, India, and China. “The process is not possible without the whole world, including the leaders of the global south,” Andrii Yermak, a top Zelensky adviser, told the Journal. 

Ukraine’s conception of a settlement has so far been Zelensky’s 10-point plan, which advocates for, among other things, restoring Ukraine’s control over the entirety of its territory, returning prisoners of war, and prosecuting Russian war crimes. European officials told the Journal that they were working with Kyiv on a modified version of the plan that could garner more widespread support. 

Though the meeting can hardly be called a “peace” summit due to the notable absence of Russia, it can still serve as a meaningful sign. As the Journal report notes: 

“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.”

In March, former U.S. diplomat Tom Pickering made the case that the first step to any serious negotiation is the prior preparations phase,  in which the various sides resolve internal differences and begin to develop a strategy.  

Though Russia’s absence makes the possibility of a significant breakthrough impossible, Zachary Paikin, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies, argued on Twitter that it is “important nonetheless that we are seeing momentum toward a diplomatic outcome & Western powers beginning to engage with the perspectives of the ‘Global South.’”

French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly played a significant role in this initiative, pushing his Ukrainian counterpart to acknowledge that this war will eventually require a political settlement, aiding Kyiv with outreach to Chinese president Xi Jinping and other world leaders, and offering to host the conference in Paris. Last week, the Danish foreign minister said that his country would also be willing to host a similar summit if the time was right. European officials hope that the meeting can take place shortly before NATO’s annual summit, which begins on July 11, in Vilnius, Lithuania. 

In other diplomatic news related to the war in Ukraine:

—Zelensky is pushing for NATO to approve Ukraine’s membership this year, making his case at a meeting of EU leaders in Moldova on Thursday. “In summer in Vilnius at the NATO summit the clear invitation to the members of Ukraine is needed and the security guarantees on the way to NATO membership are needed,” he said, according to Reuters. 

—Politico reported that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will renew his call for an inspector general to oversee how aid given to Ukraine is being spent, after the Pentagon disclosed that it miscalculated Ukraine aid by $3 billion. This is the latest in a series of unsuccessful efforts from Republicans on the Hill to create a watchdog for assistance given to support Kyiv’s war effort. 

—Drones struck residences in Moscow for the first time since the outbreak of the war. Russia blamed Kyiv for the strikes. Ukrainian officials denied direct involvement, but Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that his country was "pleased to observe and predict an increase in the number of attacks" in an online video interview, according to NBC News.  

U.S. State Department news:

The State Department did not hold its regular press briefing this week.

Europe
Yes, we can reconcile absurd Russian & Ukrainian peace plans

Review News and Aynur Mammadov via Shutterstock.com

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The international community has before it two official proposals — Ukrainian and Russian — for a peace settlement to end the war in Ukraine. Both as they stand, and in present circumstances, are absurd. Diplomats and analysts should however give thought to whether they could nonetheless in the future provide the starting point for negotiations leading to an eventual compromise.

The Ukrainian government’s Ten-Point “peace plan” demands complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all the Ukrainian territory that Russia has occupied since 2014 as a precondition for holding talks at all. Presumably those talks would then deal with other Ukrainian points, including war crimes trials for the Russian leadership, and Russian compensation for the damage caused by the Russian invasion.

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