Last weekend, August 5-6, international negotiations were held in Saudi Arabia on how the Russian-Ukrainian war should end. For the first time, China has joined the discussions in this format, and, as expected, its word can have a significant impact on Russia’s position.
The two-day meeting in Jeddah was part of Ukraine’s diplomatic initiative. The goal is to enlist the support of the peace formula not only from the Western allies, but also from the countries of the Global South, which refrain from accepting one of the parties to the conflict.
Also in Kyiv, they hoped to agree on the key principles for ending the war with the Russian Federation. And laying the groundwork for the Global Peace Summit due this fall.
“The third step (after the meetings in Copenhagen and Jeddah – ed.) will be the organization of the Global Peace Summit. We are working to make this happen this fall,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a meeting with Ukrainian ambassadors.
As expected, representatives from Russia were not invited to the summit in Saudi Arabia. But apparently the participants managed to achieve positive results.
Peace formula. Implementation one step closer
On the eve of the summit, Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of the President’s Office , said that among its participants they would distribute responsibility for certain points of the peace formula.
For example, if China is concerned about the issue of nuclear security, then it may well show leadership in this aspect. In turn, Brazil could take on the issue of environmental issues.
The FT publication, citing a European diplomat , notes that all delegates agreed on the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. And we agreed to create working groups on 10 points of the peace formula.
Recall these ten points :
- nuclear safety with the immediate return of the Zaporozhye NPP under the control of Ukraine
- food security with the smooth operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative
- energy security with the protection of Ukrainian facilities by means of air defense / missile defense
- release of captured and deported Ukrainians
- restoration of the integrity of Ukraine on the basis of the UN Charter
- the withdrawal of the Russian army and the cessation of fighting
- creation of a tribunal for Russian war crimes and compensation for damage to Ukraine
- counteracting ecocide
- providing Ukraine with long-term security guarantees
- fixing the end of the war with the signing of a multilateral peace treaty
The summit was held at the level of advisers to the leaders of the participating countries. According to Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, consultations on key principles were productive, and each participant voiced his position and vision.
“There were different views, but all testified to the commitment of their countries to the principles of the UN Charter, international law and respect for the sovereignty and inviolability of the territorial integrity of states. It is on these principles that President Zelensky’s peace formula is built,” he added.
He also noted that two months ago, representatives of one of the countries spoke about the war in Russian narratives. But as a result of the summit, their position “has undergone major changes.” He did not specify which country he was talking about.
In any case, the meeting was a step towards the practical implementation of Ukraine’s peace initiatives. And most of the participants have already decided on their role in the implementation of individual points of the peace formula. They also agreed to continue working at various representative levels.
“The most important thing is that we have become a step closer to the implementation of the Ukrainian formula for peace. We also agreed that this format will be continued, and we will work on organizing a peace summit, after which work will begin on the implementation of each of the 10 points” , – Yermak added today.
Russia’s isolation will intensify
With such a message about the summit in Jeddah, The New York Times wrote . According to him, the weekend meeting was the starting point of Ukrainian efforts to isolate Russia internationally and undermine its positions.
This is also indicated by the composition of the participants. If about 10 countries came to the first meeting in Copenhagen (Denmark), and the participation of India and South Africa was called a success in itself, then five weeks later an event three times as large was held in Saudi Arabia.
In particular, the issues of the Russian-Ukrainian war were discussed personally and online by the delegations of Saudi Arabia, Australia, Argentina, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Brazil, Great Britain, Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Egypt, India, Spain, and Italy. Jordan, Canada, Qatar, China, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Germany, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Republic of South Africa, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Union of the Comoros, Turkey, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Chile, Sweden, Japan and the UN.
And the very fact that about 40 countries took part in the consultations speaks of a strong global interest in a sustainable and strong world.
Equally important, the summit was attended by China, India, South Africa and Brazil. That is, all members of the BRICS organization, with the exception of the Russian Federation. Analysts regard this as a desire of its partners to improve the international image and hedge against the defeat of Russia.
According to Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, this gives Ukraine an opportunity to appeal to world public opinion, winning over such swing countries as Saudi Arabia, Brazil and India.
“I consider the presence of China important. The fact that the Chinese delegation arrived despite the absence of Russia suggests that the Chinese are carefully avoiding unconditional support for Moscow in this war,” DW quoted him as saying .
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba counted on the participation of Chinese representatives and called it a real breakthrough and a historic victory.
The Chinese side has long offered a mediating role in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Official Beijing considers itself neutral, but the West criticizes it for its close ties with the Russian Federation.
Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui came to Jeddah for the summit.
“It is important that these negotiations continue, because eventually we will probably come to a point where it is time to move from the battlefield to the negotiating table. China plays an important role here, mainly because if someone has influence on Putin “It’s Xi Jinping. We’ll need China to put pressure on Moscow at the right time,” said analyst Charles Kupchan.
According to the FT, China has signaled that it will continue to participate in international negotiations to resolve the war. His constructive presence inspired Ukraine’s allies, and his active involvement in the consultations was seen as a “positive signal.”
The article says that the arrival of the Chinese delegate was perceived as a “coup” and almost as the main event in Jeddah. One European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it showed Russia’s growing isolation. In addition, the delegation from China made it clear that it would also take part in the third meeting at the level of political advisers.
Although there is no need to talk about a sharp change in China’s position, the latest statement from its foreign ministry can be taken with cautious optimism.
In particular, a written commentary for Reuters says that Li Hui had extensive contacts with all parties to the settlement of the war in Ukraine, he listened to opinions and proposals, and also “contributed to further strengthening of international consensus.”
However, it is emphasized that Beijing will continue to strengthen dialogue based on its 12-point peace proposal.
At the same time, Ukrainian negotiator Andriy Yermak speaks of the importance of China’s position leaning towards the need to end the war. And he expresses the hope that he, opposing the use of nuclear weapons in any form, will become an active defender of the nuclear security clause of the peace formula.
Was there a Saudi “peace plan”?
Saudi Arabia was chosen as the host of the summit not by chance. It provides Ukraine with financial assistance and at the same time maintains close ties with Russia.
But it is obvious that Riyadh intends to strengthen its mediating role. According to DPA, citing sources, Saudi officials have proposed their “peace plan”.
The four-point plan was reportedly presented jointly with some other countries. It includes:
- preservation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine
- ceasefire on all fronts
- start of peace talks under UN supervision
- exchange of prisoners
It is noteworthy that it does not mention the need for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine as a condition for starting negotiations. Which clearly contradicts the Ukrainian formula of peace. The Western media were quick to conclude that Kyiv allegedly did not insist on the adoption of the formula in full. However, the Office of the President noted that there was no talk of starting a peace process with Russia before the de-occupation.
“The only basic ‘negotiation foundation’ is President Zelensky’s peace formula. There can be no compromise positions like ‘immediate ceasefires’ and ‘negotiations here and now’, giving Russia time to remain in the occupied territories,” the adviser to the head of the Presidential Office added today Mikhail Podolyak.
Yermak, in turn, categorically denied the discussion of the Saudi plan.
“No other formulas (except for the Ukrainian one, – ed.) were discussed either at the general meeting or in bilateral formats,” he said.
How did they react in Russia?
Deputy head of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev reacted to the meeting in Jeddah by saying that for successful negotiations, both sides of the military conflict must participate in them. At the same time, he ruled out the possibility of any negotiations before the defeat of Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that Moscow intends to discuss the results of the summit with BRICS partners. And the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, even wrote an article with the message that Ukraine should allegedly agree to a neutral, non-bloc and non-nuclear status in order for Russia to agree to a peace agreement.
“The new territorial realities that have developed as a result of the exercise by the inhabitants of the “new regions” of the right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter must be recognized, the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, the rights of its Russian-speaking citizens and national minorities must be ensured,” Zakharova’s article says.
Obviously, at this stage, Russia is not ready to put up with at least a political defeat. And the statements of its speakers once again show why Moscow is not expected at meetings of this format. After all, at a time when the Ukrainian formula for peace is enlisting an increasing number of supporters, its participation can reduce international efforts to zero.
As for the BRICS, the participation of Brazil, India, China and South Africa actually buried Russia’s plans to assemble a coalition in support of the war.
“The BRICS countries were present at a high level, and, of course, they (the Russians, – ed.) will not be able to create such a coalition. Let’s wait until it all ends. They just want to create something there, and we have already created a historical powerful coalition around Ukraine ,” summed up Andriy Yermak.
Source : RBC