Switzerland Hosts Ukraine Peace Summit; Russia, China's Absence Raises Questions: Here's All That Transpired

Swarajya Staff

Jun 17, 2024, 10:55 AM | Updated 10:55 AM IST

The Russia-Ukraine war.
The Russia-Ukraine war.

The two-day Summit on Peace in Ukraine, conducted at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland has concluded on Sunday (16 June) with participants expressing hope for an end to the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.

Of the 100 attending delegations, 80 countries and four organisations have endorsed the final joint communique from the summit, which focuses on potential solutions to the war that has been ongoing since February 2022.

India has been a notable abstention from signing the document, while Brazil, the current G-20 chair, participated only as an observer.

"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," stated the declaration, which highlighted nuclear safety, global food security, and humanitarian issues as key agendas.

The communique emphasised the need for a complete exchange of all prisoners of war and the return of all deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children, as well as other unlawfully detained Ukrainian civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy celebrated the event as a diplomatic success and expressed hope for a second peace summit aimed at achieving a just and lasting resolution to the conflict.

However, he asserted that "Russia and their leadership are not ready for a just peace" and stated that negotiations could begin immediately if Russia withdrew from Ukrainian territories.

Despite differing viewpoints, the summit attendees managed to agree on a common vision for lasting peace in Ukraine as detailed in the communique.

Western leaders at the summit consistently emphasised that Ukraine is the victim of the conflict and that peace should not mean surrender, in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent conditions for starting peace negotiations.

Russia's absence from the summit, as Putin was not invited by host Switzerland also raised questions about the summit's effectiveness.

This could have been because Switzerland, unlike China, India, or the United States, is a signatory to the Rome Statute and adheres to decisions of the International Criminal Court, which has indicted Putin for alleged war crimes.

Putin's presence in Switzerland could have led to his arrest, but the conference acknowledged the necessity of engaging Moscow in dialogue to end the war.

The communique stated, "We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties. We, therefore, decided to undertake concrete steps in the future in the above-mentioned areas with further engagement of the representatives of all parties."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymitro Kuleba also emphasised the need for both parties at the negotiation table for the next summit to potentially mark the end of the war, stressing that any peace agreement must be just and lasting.

Concerns were also raised about China's alignment with Russia and its absence from the summit.

Finnish President Alexander Stubb highlighted the issue, stating that China's disapproval of Putin's actions could potentially end the war quickly.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer expressed hope that future peace efforts would involve new partners, including India, and welcomed India's participation in the Burgenstock Summit as a significant first step.

He also recalled India's historical importance to Austria, referencing India's support during Austria's negotiations with the Soviet Union in 1953, which eventually led to Austria's independence in 1955.

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