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Switzerland to host Ukrainian Peace Summit, but without Russia

About 90 countries and organisations will attend the summit in Buergenstock, but Russia’s absence looms over the event.

Switzerland will host scores of leaders on June 15-16 at a lakeside resort near Lucerne to try and outline the first steps toward achieving peace in Ukraine.

The “Summit on Peace in Ukraine” extended invitations to 160 countries, with around 90 states and organisations expected to attend the event.

Although the final list of participants is yet to be published, several key states including the US and China are not sending heads of state. On Monday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty cited several unnamed European diplomats claiming that the number of confirmed participants has dropped off.

The conference is underpinned by a 10-point peace formula outlined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in late 2022, however questions remain over how impactful the summit could be in Russia’s absence.

Who is, and isn’t, going?

Zelenskyy has been promoting the weekend’s peace summit across the world, in an attempt to drum up support and attendance for the event.

Out of the 160 invitations sent, Zelenskyy can count on several dozen heads of state or government attending the summit including French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

US Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver an address and meet Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the summit.

The shortlist however contains some glaring absences, including US President Joe Biden who will be at a campaign fundraiser in Los Angeles with George Clooney instead.

Zelenskyy previously told reporters in Brussels that Biden’s absence would be symbolic, going as far as to say his no-show would be “a standing ovation” to Putin.

China, one of Russia’s key allies, will also be absent. In a joint statement with Brazil, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that it would participate in a summit recognized by both Ukraine and Russia, and that involves equal participation.

The most notable non-attendee however is Russia. Zelenskyy’s government made it clear Russia was not welcome, and Moscow has publicly rejected the peace plan the summit is premised on.

According to a draft document obtained by Bloomberg, the summit will aim to create a path for involving Russian officials in the future. The Swiss organisers of the conference agree that Russia’s participation is necessary despite Ukraine’s ongoing hesitance.

What can the summit achieve?

Ukraine’s plan outlines 10 proposals that highlight Zelenskyy’s vision on how to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The plan is far-reaching, including the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied territory and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia.

Three themes will be discussed at the summit: nuclear safety, including at the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant; humanitarian aid; and food security including the impact of the war on Ukrainian agricultural production and exports around the world.

Russia completely rejects Ukraine’s peace formula, making any practical resolution of issues from the summit unlikely.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he would “immediately” order a ceasefire in Ukraine if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from four regions occupied and unilaterally annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO.

The organisers have remained realistic about the summit’s potential outcomes, saying that it aims to find a “possible path towards peace in Ukraine” and provide a “basis” for a peace process.

Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine remain at a high, with Russia making territorial gains in eastern and northeastern Ukraine. Zelenskyy has repeated calls for weapons from the West, claiming they are essential to defeat Russia’s better-equipped army.

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