World Leaders Gather in Switzerland to Pressure Russia Over Ukraine Conflict

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World leaders are convening in Switzerland for a summit aimed at pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine, though the absence of key Russian allies, such as China, is expected to limit the event’s impact. Among those attending are U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, who joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the summit that began on Saturday.

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Over 50 heads of state, along with foreign ministers and delegations from numerous countries, are attending the summit. Nations with friendlier ties to Russia, including India, Turkey, and Hungary, are also present. However, China’s absence and Russia’s dismissal of the event as “futile” have weakened efforts to isolate Moscow.

“The summit risks showing the limits of Ukrainian diplomacy,” noted Richard Gowan, UN Director at the International Crisis Group. Nonetheless, he acknowledged the event’s significance in reinforcing the principles of the UN Charter and providing a platform for Ukraine to rally global support.

Despite the challenges, Zelenskyy expressed optimism, predicting “history being made” at the conference. He emphasized the importance of joint efforts to stop the war and establish a just peace, a vision he believes can eventually be communicated to Russia.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the gathering as a crucial step towards progress, underscoring the need for sustained international cooperation. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud acknowledged Russia’s absence as a barrier to more effective results, with Faisal stressing the necessity of “difficult compromise” for credible negotiations.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his demands for Ukraine to abandon its NATO ambitions and cede four provinces claimed by Moscow, conditions Kyiv quickly rejected as tantamount to surrender. Western allies, including Germany’s Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, dismissed Putin’s demands, emphasizing the need for a just and sustainable peace that restores Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Putin’s confidence in Russia’s military position contrasts with recent Ukrainian gains in territories near Kherson and Kharkiv. The conflict, which has turned into a war of attrition, remains intensely lopsided, according to Peter Zalmayev, Director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative. He highlighted the G7’s recent pledge to use interest from frozen Russian funds for a $50 billion loan to Ukraine as a critical lifeline.

While the summit in Switzerland highlights international efforts to support Ukraine, the path to peace remains fraught with challenges, as both sides remain deeply entrenched in their positions.

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