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Ninety states headed to Ukraine peace summit but Russia absent

In News, World
June 10, 2024

Russia not invited after slamming event, but officials suggest Moscow can join process down the line.

Ninety states from around the globe have signed up to attend a conference aimed at finding a route to sustainable peace in Ukraine, Switzerland has said, but Russia will not be represented.

Swiss President Viola Amherd told reporters in Bern on Monday that the aim of the event on June 15-16 is to agree on a path towards ending the war that started nearly 28 months ago when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

However, Russia will not be present at the conference, which Switzerland is hosting at Kyiv’s request. Bern has previously said that Russia was not invited as it had signalled it was not interested in participating.

Moscow has maintained that Switzerland is no longer a neutral country due to its mirroring of sanctions imposed by the European Union.

However, the Swiss government said in a statement that the gathering will aim to “jointly define a roadmap” on how to involve both Russia and Ukraine in a future peace process.

Invitation list

Amherd said that “a handful” of the confirmed participants are from organisations like the United Nations, with the rest representing countries, about half of which are sending a head of state or government.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are set to appear. US President Joe Biden will not but the White House will instead send Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Amherd denied that Switzerland was “disappointed” that fewer than 100 countries would attend after about 160 invitations were sent.

The invitation list sought to drum up support among countries that have better relations with Moscow than leading Western powers.

Key developing countries like Turkey and South Africa have not indicated whether they will attend. India, the Swiss said, will take part but it remains unclear at what level. The final list of participants is expected by Friday.

Brazil and China said they would not take part unless both sides – including Russia – were at the table, according to Swiss officials.

Beijing last week rejected accusations from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that it was trying, in cooperation with Russia, to undermine the summit by putting pressure on other countries not to attend.

Disruption

Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said his country believes there cannot be a peace process without Russia, suggesting efforts would be made to bring Moscow to the table later.

“The question is not whether Russia will be on board, the question is when,” he told a news conference.

The conference aims to reach a “common understanding” towards “lasting peace” and draw up a “roadmap” on how to get both sides involved, officials said.

Nuclear security, humanitarian aid and food security, freedom of navigation, and prisoners of war are other issues on the agenda.

Switzerland has said it plans to deploy as many as 4,000 military personnel to provide security for the event.

Amherd said that cyberattacks had increased in recent weeks, while noting personal attacks against her in Russian media that have been publicised in Switzerland.

“We haven’t summoned the ambassador,” she said. “That’s how I wanted it, because the disinformation campaign is so extreme that one can see that little of it reflects reality.”

Cassis said there was a clear “interest” in disrupting the talks, but avoided saying who was behind the attacks.

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