Horst D. Deckert

Ukraine Urges China To Be Involved In Swiss-Hosted Peace Summit

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Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak on Sunday explained that Kiev now believes it is crucial for China to be at the table for future talks on its peace formula.

President Volodymyr Zelensky appears increasingly more serious about pursuing peace negotiations to end the war, and this was on display in comments issued by his top aide headed into the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. 

Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak on Sunday explained that Kiev now believes it is crucial for China to be at the table for future talks on its peace formula. “China needs to be involved in talks to end the war with Russia,” the Ukrainian top representative said following diplomatic meetings going into the WEF. China remains the most influential Global South country widely viewed as squarely in Russia’s corner, having refused to rebuke Moscow or join Western-led sanctions after two years of the conflict.

Importantly, Chinese Premier Li Qiang is leading the delegation from Beijing at the WEF this week, which presents a significant opportunity for serious engagement on the question of Ukraine peace. There’s also the potential that Li and President Zelensky could meet, given Yermak said “let’s see” when he was asked by a journalist whether they would directly engage.

Meanwhile, Zelensky has successfully cobbled together a peace summit proposed within the context of world leaders gathering in Davos, and the Swiss government has agreed to play official host, and yet Russia – the other crucial party capable of ending the war – is not invited

Switzerland agreed to host the summit at Zelenskiy’s request, a Swiss government spokesperson said, adding that further details were being worked out.

“We would like the Global South to be present…. It is important for us to show that the whole world is against Russia’s aggression, and the whole world is for a just peace,” he said.

The outcome to the summit, expected to be initiated Tuesday, is likely to be merely be more of the same

A high-level meeting to discuss peace in Ukraine ended without a significant resolution, as talks were held on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos with the second anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion fast approaching.

Representatives of more than 83 countries were involved in the fourth and final such meeting of national security advisers, but little common ground was found towards ending a conflict that appears stuck in a grinding deadlock.

Ignazio Cassis, the foreign minister of host nation Switzerland, said the gathering helped clarify certain points for future discussions but that it was clear none of the warring parties were willing to make territorial concessions.

It remains that there are some key aspects of Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan which Moscow sees as a non-starter. For example, here is Point 6 of Zelensky’s ten point peace plan:

To cease the hostilities, Russia must withdraw all its troops and armed formations from the territory of Ukraine, plain and simple. Ukraine’s full control over its state border, recognized internationally, needs to be restored.

Without this, no long-lasting peace can be achieved. Each day Russian soldiers remain on Ukrainian land, Ukrainians have to fight and die to protect their homes and to shield the world from the long-lasting consequences of this aggression. 

Additionally, Zelensky has issued the following words on X: “I will also discuss the return of Ukrainian children stolen by Russia, sanctions, ways to use frozen Russian assets, humanitarian mine clearing, financial assistance, and recovery,” he wrote.

China is seen as key to getting Russia to make significant compromise, yet both Xi and Putin know that Russian military success in Ukraine means Kiev has no cards to play. Ultimately, without China being on board with such initiatives to woo Global South countries to take a firmer anti-Russian line, there’s little that will come out of it.

Still, it seems each side is at least inching toward possible near-future talks. “Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told an event in the US that Russia has showed enthusiasm to have peace talks with Ukraine, when Chinese officials talked with them,” according to Bloomberg last week.


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