The path towards possible peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow seems slow and rocky, but the meeting held this weekend in the Saudi city of Jeddah has put another brick in that new political architecture that Ukraine wants to build to put an end to full-scale Russian invasion. The Executive of Volodímir Zelenski has achieved several things in the meeting held under the auspices of the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed Bin Salmán: first, the organization of the forum itself, just over a month after the first attempt to promote the dialogue around peace, at a meeting held in Copenhagen (Denmark). Secondly, the participation of a delegation sent by China, a country with excellent relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, together with around 40 other diplomatic missions. Lastly, kyiv has managed to ensure that the principle of territorial integrity prevails on the table as the fundamental axis of its demands. Russia was not invited to the appointment.
“There were different opinions,” said Andri Yermak, head of Zelensky’s Office of the Presidency, “but all the participants demonstrated their countries’ commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, international law and respect for the sovereignty and inviolability of the territorial integrity of States”. As revealed by Yermak to the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper, the Saudi meeting brought together three times as many countries as the one in Copenhagen, held on June 24. On both occasions, behind closed doors, the tone has been prudent, as well as the content of the conversations, which remains secret.
On the table in Jeddah has been what is called the “Zelensky formula”, the 10 points outlined by the Ukrainian president in November. The cornerstone of this peace plan is the withdrawal of Russian troops from all of its territory and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity. In addition, the president includes in his proposal the protection of food and energy supplies, nuclear security and the release of all prisoners, as well as the setting up of a court to judge Russian war crimes.
Moscow, which had stated that it would follow the Jeddah appointment to find out the objectives of the talks, has indicated through the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Riabkov, that the forum is the result of Western attempts to mobilize the international community and countries of the global south around the Zelenski formula, “unsustainable and doomed to failure”.
Riabkov, however, has reported that the Russian government will discuss the results of the meeting with the BRICS partners. The attendance at the Jeddah event, except for Russia, from the bloc of emerging countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa), an allied club that Putin wants to give priority to, has been one of Kiev’s great victories, especially by the presence of the envoy from Beijing, Li Hui. The BRICS will hold their next summit in Johannesburg between August 22 and 24, which Putin will not attend, against whom an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague weighs.
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Zelensky’s Cabinet had raised the Jeddah forum as a prelude to the organization in the autumn of a summit of heads of state and government that can advance on what peace plan can be put on the table. kyiv maintains as a fundamental requirement the withdrawal of Russian troops to the borders drawn after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But this undoubtedly clashes with the Kremlin’s maxim: to keep under its control the illegally annexed territories and included since October last year in the Russian Constitution as part of the Federation (Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia areas).
Moscow defends the annexed
In an interview with the American newspaper The New York Times as part of a report published this Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitro Peskov said that Moscow does not want to annex more than what is already occupied by its armed forces. “We just want to control all the territories that are currently written into the Constitution as ours,” Peskov said.
As detailed by Yermak to Ukrainska Pravda, those attending the Jeddah forum were: Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bahrain, India, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Union of the Comoros Islands, China, Korea, Turkey, Japan, Egypt, South Africa, United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and organizations European Union and United Nations.
The development of the talks during this weekend has not stopped the violence on the front. The launch of a major Russian offensive during the night from Saturday to Sunday forced the activation of anti-aircraft alerts in practically all of Ukraine. According to the data of the Air Force of this country, Russia carried out 70 attacks through cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles and drones. Two people lost their lives due to the Russian bombardment against a blood transfusion center in Kupiansk, in the province of Kharkov, in the east of the country. The shells sent by Moscow also hit silos and an air base in Khmelnitsky, about 35 kilometers southwest of kyiv. The Ukrainian forces have responded this Sunday with a new attack on the partially damaged Chonhar bridge, which connects Kherson with Crimea.
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