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Nearly 80 countries agree Ukraine's 'territorial integrity' must be basis for peace talks

The statement commits to not using threat or force against territorial integrity
Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 1:50 PM, Jun 16, 2024

Dozens of countries are calling for steps toward peace amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, after a summit at a resort in the Swiss mountains with world leaders aimed to lay a foundation for future discussions.

While 82 states and organizations signed on to a joint statement, countries including India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia did not.

The statement commits to not using threat or force against territorial integrity. Ukraine has said that a peace process could begin as soon as Russian troops leave Ukraine's territory.

“Previous political generations have left us the U.N. Charter as a basis for the cooperation of peoples. We will pass to the next generations an effective mechanism to implement the U.N. Charter. And the communique adopted at the summit these days fully reflects our intention, and remains open for accession by everyone who respects the U.N. Charter,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “It’s important that all participants of the summit supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity because there will be no lasting peace without territorial integrity.”

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Zelenskyy said out of the summit, countries agreed to continue work in groups at an adviser level and that countries have already indicated an interest in hosting a second peace summit.

While Zelenskyy’s plan calls for the end of the war, withdrawal of Russian troops, rejects any territorial acquisition and for Russian accountability, the summit focused particularly on nuclear safety, food security and the return of prisoners and abducted children.

The joint statement calls for Ukrainian control of Ukrainian power plants, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant; for Ukrainian agricultural products to be securely provided to third countries; for the exchange of prisoners of war and for the return of deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children.

“Today the world sees that real diplomacy is not just about words, it is about steps, steps that need to be taken to fix a situation. We have begun to develop such steps and this is the practical meaning of the Peace Summit,” Zelenskyy said.

The summit comes as Zelenskyy has sought to rally international support for his peace plan as Russia continues its war in Ukraine.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin days before the convening put forth his own demands for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from occupied territory and the abandonment of Ukraine’s NATO vision.

“There's a fascinating split screen this weekend between Putin who's out making statements about his principles for peace, which are further subjugation. Further occupation, further domination of portions of Ukraine and the removal of Ukraine's right to choose its own future, which is a completely absurd vision that really exposes Putin and Russia about not being serious about peace at this point in any way, shape or form,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

While Russia was not at the table, Zelenskyy noting its continuation of war, its absence was nodded to by some countries who called for eventual discussions with both parties, including Saudi Arabia.

Sullivan said the summit is a critical step that can lead to negotiations but not the end of the process. He pointed to Ukraine’s indication that the war ends in negotiation.

“That includes negotiations with Russia,” Sullivan said. “Now from Ukraine’s perspective, first, they want to be in the best possible position on the battlefield in order to be in the best possible position at the negotiating table.”

But some leaders and regional experts measured the success of the summit in part by the scope of participation.

“I think in some ways, Zelenskyy's purpose here is to win over hearts and minds, to bring to the table the leaders of many countries of the global south that have really been sitting on the fence. They haven't come down hard against Russia. They're more concerned about food shortages, supply chain disruptions, energy prices, than they are about Russia's act of aggression,” Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said ahead of the summit.

Notably, South Africa and Brazil attended only at the envoy level, while China itself was absent from discussions.

“And I presume they're not here because Putin asked them not to come and they obliged Putin. And I think that says something about where China stands with respect to Russia's war in Ukraine. I think countries should take notice of that,” Sullivan said, as U.S. officials have also criticized the Chinese government for its political support of Russia through duel use goods.

Still, Zelenskyy declared the attendance of more than 100 countries and delegations a success.

“We are responding to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only with a full-scale defense of human life, but also with full-scale diplomacy. These days united 101 countries and international organizations, big success for Ukraine and for all partners, and our fair objective is to get all countries of the world to join this noble cause,” Zelenskyy said.

Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated U.S. support during the first day of the summit.

“President Biden and I have made clear over the past three years we are committed to uphold international rules and norms to defend democratic values and stand up to dictators and to stand with our allies and partners. This approach has provided for our security and prosperity for generations and it continues to do so today. This approach makes Americans strong and it keeps Americans safe and this approach bolsters global stability,” Harris told Zelenskyy as the two met.

Harris announced $1.5 billion in support for Ukraine's energy, humanitarian and civilian safety needs, on the heels of U.S. and allies agreeing to tap into the proceeds from frozen Russian assets to aid Ukraine and the signing of a `0-year bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine.

Harris attended as President Joe Biden took part in a high-dollar campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles.