Ukraine peace summit says ‘dialogue between all parties’ needed to end war

June 17, 2024
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (centre) pictured alongside other officials during the plenary session of the Summit on Peace in Ukraine in Stansstad near Lucerne, Switzerland on June 16, 2024. — Reuters

BURGENSTOCK, Switzerland: Dozens of countries said on Sunday that Ukraine´s “territorial integrity” should be respected in any peace deal to end the war, as they said “dialogue between all parties” would be necessary for a lasting settlement.


In a final communique issued at the end of a major two-day diplomatic summit in Switzerland, the vast majority of countries also backed a call for the full exchange of captured soldiers and return of deported Ukrainian children.

But not all attendees backed the document, with India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among those not included in a list of supporting states displayed on screens at the summit.

“We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement of and dialogue between all parties,” the document stated.

It added: “We reaffirm our commitment to ... the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognised borders.”

More than 90 countries had gathered in the Swiss resort of Burgenstock for the summit, dedicated to discussing Kyiv´s proposals for a route out of the conflict.

Moscow was not invited and has rejected the summit as “absurd” and pointless.

Kyiv had worked hard to secure attendance from countries that maintain warm relations with Russia.

The final document also called for all prisoners of war to be released in a “complete exchange” and for all Ukrainian children who had been “deported and unlawfully displaced” to be returned to Ukraine.

Kyiv accuses Russia of abducting almost 20,000 children from parts of the east and south of the country that its forces took control of.

Working groups at the summit also addressed the issues of global food security and nuclear safety.

“Food security must not be weaponised in any way,” the declaration stated, adding that access to ports in the Black and Azov Seas was “critical” for global food supply.

And the countries also called for Ukraine to have “full sovereign control” over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Located in the south of Ukraine, the facility is Europe´s largest nuclear energy site and has been controlled by Russian forces since early in the war. Zelensky said that Russia was not ready for a “just peace”, insisting Kyiv was open to immediate talks if Moscow pulls its troops out of the country.

The Ukrainian leader was speaking at the end of a major diplomatic summit in Switzerland, designed to rally support for Kyiv´s proposals on how the war should end.

“Russia and their leadership are not ready for a just peace, this is a fact,” Zelensky told reporters at a closing press conference.

A final communique, agreed by around 80 states, reaffirmed a commitment to Ukraine´s “territorial integrity” and said dialogue between “all parties” would be needed to end the conflict.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, unleashing the largest conflict in Europe since World War II.

Its forces still control just under a fifth of Ukraine´s internationally recognised territory, including the Crimean peninsula which it annexed in 2014.

French President Emmanuel Macron blasted it as a call for “capitulation”, while Zelensky rejected the “Hitler”-like “ultimatum”.

On Sunday, Zelensky called for a full Russian withdrawal and respect for Ukraine´s “territorial integrity”.

“Russia can start negotiations with us even tomorrow, without waiting for anything, if they leave our legal territories,” he said.

Zelensky also said he would like to see China play a bigger role in discussing a settlement to the conflict.

Beijing, a close political and economic ally of Russia, did not attend the summit in protest at Moscow not being invited.

“I believe that China could help us. That is why I would very much like to see certain proposals that the Chinese side has,” Zelensky said.

“Ukraine has never said that China is our enemy,” he added.

Asked whether he would consider China a friend, Zelensky said: “I believe that friends are those who help when things are difficult. And I would like China to be a friend to Ukraine.”