Small Steps to Russia-Ukraine Conflict Negotiations

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 24 Jun 2024

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

20 Jun 2024 – On 15-16 June 2024, the Swiss Government under the leadership of the Federal President Viola Amherd and the Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis organized a High-level Summit for Peace in Ukraine in the plush hotel complex of the Burgenstock in the mountains above Lake Lucerne.  The Summit was attended by the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy.  There was no representative of the Russian Federation, and no delegation which could officially set out the Russian position.

However, on the eve of the Summit in Switzerland, President Putin spoke with Russian diplomats and officials in Moscow and set out his conditions for a ceasefire and a political settlement.  This meeting was the first of this style since November 2021, indicating the importance of what he had to say.  After a very general overview of world politics he said ” These profound, system-wide changes certainly inspire optimism and hope because the establishment of multipolarity and multilateralism, including respect for international law and broad representation make it possible to resolve the most complex problems together for the common benefit, and to build mutually beneficial relations and cooperation between sovereign states for the sake of the well-being and security of peoples.”

He then turned to a development of relations with Ukraine and ended by reaffirming that Crimea, the Donetsh and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions had been incorporated by the will of its people into the Russian Federation. “This matter is closed forever and is no longer a matter of discussion.”

However, the status of Crimea and of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is at the core of what President Zelensky wants discussed.  The Summit was not the place to do it.  Thus, the Summit focused upon the one practical step possible: ” All prisoners of war must be released by complete exchange.  All deported Ukrainian children, all other Ukrainian civilians who were unlawfully detained, must be returned to Ukraine.”

At the end of the Summit, there was a very general joint statement which stated that “The ongoing war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine continues to cause large-scale human suffering and destruction, and to create risks and crises with global repercussions for the world. We had a fruitful, comprehensive, and constructive exchange of various views on pathways toward a framework for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on international law, including the United Nations Charter… We believe that reaching peace requires the involvement and dialogue between all parties.”

As with all such meetings, one does not know what is said in private on what  next steps may be possible.  The meeting is a sign that there is a military stalemate with some Russian advances.  There is a need for negotiations in good faith.  The Summit is a useful example of governmental positions.   We must now see in what ways nongovernmental organizations may move things in a positive direction.

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René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 Jun 2024.

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