Ukraine Peace Summit turns hard on Russia. How leaders amended the final decision under criticism

Thursday, 13 June 2024 — , European Pravda
PHOTO: The press service of the Office of the President of Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to Switzerland on 15 January 2024

Harsh criticism of the agreed draft resolution of the Peace Summit, voiced both in Ukraine and by Ukraine's allies, forced the organisers to make concessions. Switzerland, which is organising the Global Peace Summit, sent a radically revised document to all capitals of the participating countries, correcting key issues highlighted by European Pravda.

The updated draft is entirely acceptable for Ukraine. It explicitly calls the war "Russian aggression." Loopholes that could have paved the way for territorial concessions from Ukraine were removed from the text. Several states that had planned to attend the Peace Summit in Switzerland have decided not to go there after the draft decision was changed in favour of Ukraine.

European Pravda has learned the details of the negotiations and the decision that will be adopted this weekend.


Behind the scenes of the Peace Summit

The timeline of these events is crucial: it shows how urgent the changes that occurred over the past week were.

The idea to hold the Peace Summit in Switzerland was agreed upon at the beginning of the year. On 10 April, Switzerland announced the agreed date and location for the summit. Leaders of about 160 countries, four international organisations (UN, EU, Council of Europe, OSCE), the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch were invited to the Bürgenstock Alpine Spa. It was predetermined that Russia would not be present at the first Peace Summit, which Ukraine demanded in the first place.

Both Kyiv and Bern aimed to adopt a decision following the summit. However, the wording needed to be agreed upon by all participants.

Preparation for this document started more than two months ago. European Pravda has the April draft of the joint communiqué, where the summit dates were still tentative. That document was prepared in Kyiv and was entirely acceptable for Ukraine, adhering to the important red lines for Ukrainian society.

However, Switzerland persuaded Ukraine to soften it as much as possible, considering the wishes of all participants. On 28 May, a compromise version was sent from Bern to all capitals, and initially, Kyiv had to agree to it.

Everything changed when the public learned that this draft was dangerous for Ukraine.

The discussion began with an article by European Pravda, published on 5 June. The next day, on 6 June, Kyiv was forced to make public statements asserting that "Ukraine will not retreat from the Peace Formula." This fueled discussions in the capitals of Ukraine's allies, which were also not thrilled with the wording of the Swiss document. At least a few of them contacted Bern with a proposal to revise the joint statement.

On 9 June, Switzerland had sent a completely new draft to all countries. Amending the communiqué took mere days, not months as before.

What has changed

The summit's decision remains unchanged in format and structure. This is a two-page document dedicated to three issues: nuclear security, food security and the prisoners of war. Key issues that lay outside these points have been addressed though.

  1. Russian Aggression

–  Old wording: The May draft decision of the Peace Summit did not mention the word "aggression," meaning the international crime where Russia is the perpetrator and Ukraine the victim.

–  New wording: This has been amended. The joint communiqué now refers to "the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine".

  1. Territorial Integrity and the UN Charter

– Old wording: the previous summit decision version created a legal window to include Ukraine abandoning part of its territory in the conditions of "sustainable peace with Russia", if necessary.

– New wording: the new draft decision clearly states that the basis for sustainable peace will be only "a solution based on the principle of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states".

  1. Alternative Peace Formulas

   – Old wording: the previous draft blurred the meaning of the Peace Formula and opened up space for international discussion of all alternative visions of peace, such as the Chinese-Brazilian one, which envisages a halt to the strengthening of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and a cessation of hostilities.

 – New wording: the new wording states that only peace proposals that comply with international law (i.e. an unconditional return of the 1991 borders, unless revised by Ukraine itself) and the UN Charter (in particular, Ukraine's unconditional right to continue repelling Russian aggression and liberating the occupied territories) will be taken into account.

  1. Involvement of Russia

– Old wording: the earlier version turned Russia from an aggressor into a participant in peace talks, requiring only vague "confidence-building measures" on nuclear and food security.

– New wording: this section has been rewritten from scratch. The Swiss agreed not to mention Russia at all in the provision on peace talks, instead referring to "all parties". There is no longer a weakened requirement for "confidence-building measures", but instead "specific actions" are required. And most importantly, the references to a "second peace summit" that hinted at a commitment to invite Russia to participate have been removed.

  1. Food Security

   – New addition: The updated document includes the statement that "attacks on merchant ships in ports and along the entire route, as well as against civilian ports and civilian port infrastructure, are unacceptable". This falls under the global food security section but applies to all civilian vessels, including container ships or those exporting Ukrainian metals. Continued attacks would block Russia's participation in peace initiatives.

These significant changes ensure that the new draft of the summit decision is more acceptable to Ukraine, reinforcing its territorial integrity, addressing Russian aggression accurately and maintaining stringent conditions on peace negotiations involving Russia.

The document is acceptable for Ukraine

The Joint Communiqué on a Peace Framework in its new version aligns with Ukraine's interests. Although there are still minor remarks, the main dangers have been addressed. Currently, the draft is not yet final: there is still a possibility of point changes on 13-14 June. However, European Pravda's sources are inclined to believe that the updated content of the decision will remain.

Realistic expectations are necessary. This summit will not lead to a breakthrough or end the war. Ukraine is merely taking one of the first steps on a long path. However, it is crucial that this step is in the right direction and does not create new problems.

The higher ambition of the document came at a cost:

several countries have declined to participate in the summit. As of 5 June, Switzerland officially announced that it had "received more than 80 confirmations of attendance at the level of heads of states and governments", and the total number of confirmed attendees, as reported by officials, exceeded 100. However, in the following days, this phrase had to be removed from the event's website, and now it reads that "around 90 states have confirmed their participation in the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, most of them at head of state or government level".

Sources of European Pravda reported that, in reality, about 15 countries have "paused" their attendance. In addition, the number of those who have signalled a demotion from the presidential or prime ministerial level to the level of ministers or even their deputies is in the dozens.

Although it is obvious that due to the recent changes, the summit will be attended by fewer states than initially anticipated by Bankova Street [where the Ukrainian President's Office is located] eight days ago, it is better to have a summit of like-minded people than to make concessions on issues that are critical for the state.

Sergiy Sydorenko

European Pravda, Editor

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