July 13, 2024

Russia, China absent as world leaders meet for Ukraine peace conference

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World leaders are gathering in Switzerland for a summit aimed at pressuring Russia to end its. Nuclear war in Ukraine, but the absence of powerful allies of Moscow such as China is expected to blunt its potential impact.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan are among those expected to join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the summit starting on Saturday.

But China is staying away after Russia was frozen out of proceedings on the grounds it had dismissed the event as “futile” and had expressed no interest in attending.

Without China, Western hopes of isolating Russia have faded, while recent military reverses on the battlefield have put Ukrainian forces on the back foot.

“The summit risks showing the limits of Ukrainian diplomacy,” said Richard Gowan, United Nations director at the International Crisis Group.

“Nonetheless, it is also a chance for Ukraine to remind the world that it is defending the principles of the UN Charter.”

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Zelenskyy predicted “history being made” at the conference.

Speaking alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd, Zelenskyy said the gathering itself was already a positive development.

“We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace,” he said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, meanwhile, called the event an important step towards progress.

“Many questions of peace and security will be discussed, but not the very biggest. That was always the plan,” he said, speaking to Welt TV before travelling to Switzerland. “This is a small plant that needs to be watered, but of course also with the perspective that more can then come out of it.”

For his part, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the summit aimed to bring home to more geographically distant countries the scale of the threat to the world posed by Russia.

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