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World leaders will gather at a Swiss resort to discuss a potential peace roadmap for Ukraine, with Russia noticeably not participating

Amid the backdrop of battlefield actions and diplomatic strategies, the summit will prioritize discussions on nuclear safety, humanitarian aid, and global food security.

GENEVA — A summit hosted at the Bürgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne this weekend aims to lay out initial steps toward peace in Ukraine, drawing participation from the presidents of Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Somalia alongside numerous Western leaders, while notably excluding Russia.

Swiss officials overseeing the conference have confirmed the attendance of over 50 heads of state and government, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with around 100 delegations including representatives from European bodies and the United Nations.

The absence of Russia, which initiated the conflict by invading Ukraine in February 2022 and continues its military campaign, underscores the significance of who attends this crucial meeting. Critics argue that any meaningful progress towards peace requires the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Among the attendees, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is slated to join, while Turkey and Saudi Arabia will be represented by their foreign ministers. Major developing nations like Brazil, India, and South Africa will participate at lower diplomatic levels.

China, a supporter of Russia, joins a substantial group of nations opting out of the conference, emphasizing that any peace efforts must involve both Russia and Ukraine, and suggesting its own peace initiatives.

The backdrop of ongoing military engagements and strategic negotiations sets the stage for discussions at the summit, focusing on three primary agenda items: ensuring nuclear safety, particularly at facilities like the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia power plant; addressing humanitarian needs and facilitating the exchange of prisoners of war; and stabilizing global food security amidst disruptions in Black Sea shipments.

While these topics are critical, they represent only a portion of the broader ambitions outlined by President Zelenskyy in his 10-point peace plan unveiled in late 2022. Zelenskyy’s plan advocates for ambitious goals such as the withdrawal of Russian troops, cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity including Crimea.

In contrast, Russia has emphasized a peace framework centered around an earlier draft agreement proposing Ukraine’s neutrality and limitations on its military capacity, while deferring discussions on Russian-occupied territories. Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO have long been a point of contention between Kyiv and Moscow.

Analysts acknowledge Ukraine’s challenging position amidst shifting military dynamics, with Russia making incremental gains despite international opposition and economic sanctions.

As the international community’s attention shifts between other global conflicts and upcoming elections, supporters of Ukraine seek to refocus attention on Russia’s breach of international law and the imperative of restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty.

President Putin, dismissing the conference as a distraction, labeled it as a maneuver to divert attention from substantive issues.

The International Crisis Group cautioned that without significant breakthroughs, the Bürgenstock summit may yield limited results. Nevertheless, it provides an opportunity for Ukraine and its allies to reaffirm global recognition of Russia’s aggression and violations of international norms.

Observers will closely scrutinize the summit’s outcomes and future plans. Swiss organizers, hopeful for Russian involvement in the future, anticipate consensus on the current agenda items while acknowledging the uncertainty regarding subsequent steps.

As leaders converge on Bürgenstock, violence continues unabated in Ukraine, underscoring the urgency of finding diplomatic solutions amid ongoing hostilities and humanitarian crises.

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