World leaders gathered in Switzerland over the weekend for a Peace Summit aimed at lasting peace in the ongoing war in Ukraine but failed to do so. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL BUHOLZER / POOL


Peace summit fails but Zelensky says conflict could be ended ‘tomorrow’


World leaders gathered in Switzerland for a summit seeking peace in Russia’s war Ukraine have come away enpty-handed.

At the meeting running form June 15-16, the dispute over Ukrainian territory remained a critical sticking point.

After the Peace Summit ended, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to a previous ultimatum from Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling the media that peace could be negotiated “tomorrow if it [Russia] withdraws from our territory”.

On June 14, Putin had stated that Russia would cease hostilities only if Ukraine abandoned its NATO ambitions and ceded four provinces claimed by Moscow, adding that his demands were “easy”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters: “He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty.”

The June 16 summit concluded with the majority of world leaders adopting a final declaration to guide efforts to end the conflict.

More than 80 countries signed a joint statement reaffirming their support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.

Members of the BRICS economic group and economic allies of Russia, including India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, attended the summit but did not sign the declaration.

The document stated: “We reaffirm our commitment to refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all States, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognised borders, including territorial waters.”

The communiqué also called for the release of prisoners of war and demanded the return of all Ukrainian children deported and illegally displaced in Russia. Additionally, it insisted that all illegally detained Ukrainian civilians be returned to Ukraine.

Another crucial issue was nuclear safety. The final statement called for “full sovereign control” by Ukraine over the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.

“Firstly, any use of nuclear energy and nuclear installations must be safe, secured, safe-guarded and environmentally sound,” it read.

“Ukrainian nuclear power plants and installations must operate safely and securely under full sovereign control of Ukraine.”

Leaders at the summit recognised that to achieve an acceptable end to the conflict, Putin and Zelensky should negotiate directly.

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

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hinted at a future Peace Summit.

“We know that peace in Ukraine will not be achieved in one step, it will be a journey,” she said.