Why Ukraine should not rush to organise the next Peace Summit

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 —

The Peace Summit in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, on the weekend, marked the first gathering of world leaders dedicated to finding ways to end Russia's war against Ukraine. The event brought together representatives from over 90 countries, including 56 heads of state and government. That was indeed an extraordinarily large event.

But did Ukraine achieve its goal and was it victorious? Read more in a detailed analysis by Sergiy Sydorenko, a European Pravda editor – What the Peace Summit will change: real consequences, pros and threats after the meeting in Switzerland.

Ukraine has undoubtedly gained a lot in Switzerland, but we need to be real, in assessing the event.

The summit did demonstrate solid support for Ukraine by the Western bloc.


Even countries that reluctantly joined this bloc and wished to forgive Putin and resume full cooperation with Russia (such as Hungary and Serbia) had to align with the rest of the European and pro-American states.

However, the summit did not unite the world in support of Ukraine. The main idea and added value of convening the Global Summit were to involve Global South states in this support. But this did not happen.

Moreover, Ukraine's "peace formula" did not unify the countries. Even Kyiv's attempt to set aside its toughest demands on Russia did not lead to success.

Eleven UN member states present at the summit (13 as of the following day) did not sign the joint statement. Reducing the ambition of the statement and focusing on "neutral" points like nuclear safety did not help.

And it was precisely those countries that Kyiv worked hardest to engage that refused to sign.

The vast majority of "non-Western" countries prefer to wait and will act depending on the developments on the battlefield. It is there, not at negotiations, that the balance of power regarding Russia's aggression and Ukraine's integrity will be determined.

The problems of global division are compensated by a decent decision, which, however, will have limited consequences. Essentially, the summit confirmed the status quo.

The rushed organisation of this summit should teach a lesson for the future. Attempts to make concessions did not make Ukraine stronger on the international stage. It is good that before the Swiss meeting, it was possible to stop in time, return key positions important to Ukraine to the decision text and, frankly speaking, avoid failure.

However, Kyiv has not shown that it has learned this lesson.

Statements from both Western and Ukrainian officials are emerging about the intention to hold a second summit as soon as possible. And Russia is supposed to participate in it.

All key EU capitals, as well as the US, have repeatedly stated that only Ukraine should determine when it is ready for negotiations. Moreover, they often explicitly express the opinion that talks should only begin when Ukraine achieves significant successes on the battlefield, allowing it to negotiate with the Kremlin from a position of strength.

Six months ago, starting the road to the Swiss peace summit, Ukraine made a serious mistake by promoting negotiations while being in the worst image position in the past year.

And recent statements leave serious doubts about whether Kyiv has learned from this mistake.

Given how Ukraine was willing to push its own red lines during the preparation for the first summit, there is every reason to monitor the further movement and negotiations. Especially if it turns out that we are indeed rushing to hold the second summit before the geopolitical conditions are right.

Another problem with public, declarative haste is that President Zelenskyy sends a signal about his readiness for concessions and compromises. This signal is heard by Putin. This signal is heard by those international partners inclined to push Ukraine towards "peace" at any cost.

And this problem needs to be addressed immediately. Including through the firmness of Ukraine's public stance and its red lines.

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