War in Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky’s diplomatic tour continues in Europe

Berlin, Bari in Puglia and finally Switzerland at the end of the week, Volodymyr Zelensky’s diplomatic marathon continues, writes Daniel Vallot, from RFI’s international service. The Ukrainian president is still demanding weapons and diplomatic support from Russia. He hopes to obtain a new Patriot anti-aircraft defense system, and, during the G7, a long-awaited decision on the use of Russian assets frozen by Western countries – to be more precise on the interests generated by this money.

In Switzerland, this weekend there will no longer be talk of military support or sanctions against Russia but of peace negotiations that could be initiated with Moscow, with one difficulty: Russia will not participate in the conference. The head of Swiss diplomacy, Ignoazio Cassis, himself recognized, on Monday, June 11, the limits of the exercise: “A peace conference, in which there are not even the two parties that are waging war on the ground, is a first step to establish a process. It would be illusory to pretend that everything is clear and that on Saturday evening we can celebrate peace.”

“No peace process without Russia”
“There will be no peace process without Russia,” he said again. I believe that this is an illusion that must be stated very clearly. So the question is not whether Russia will be on board, but when, from what point.” Russia will inevitably have to join the negotiations at some point: this position is also shared by Ukraine and this is what one of Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest advisers said last night

Andrii Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, mentioned a second peace summit, to which Russia would this time be invited. Ukraine’s objective is to obtain – beforehand – the support of as many countries as possible, on a road map that will then serve as a basis for the negotiations. “A plan supported by 100 countries or more would be very difficult to challenge,” explains Andrii Yermak, who wants to avoid a negotiation format where Ukraine would be isolated against Russia;

Ukraine’s goal in particular is to obtain the support of countries other than its Western allies: countries like India, Brazil, South Africa and China. The problem is that these countries are reluctant or even hostile to this summit organized without Russia. For the time being, only New Delhi has agreed to come to Switzerland and half of the leaders who will travel this weekend will be Europeans, so this expansion of diplomatic support for Ukraine is still difficult.

First of all, consensual subjects
To obtain the most global support possible, we will discuss rather consensual subjects: navigation in the Black Sea and nuclear safety, in particular the situation at the Zaporizhzhya power plant, but the basis for negotiation on which Ukraine wants to work includes other points that will be addressed later: in particular the withdrawal of Russian troops, financial reparations and the creation of a tribunal to judge those responsible for Russian crimes…

But, for the moment, it is still an impasse. Russia has repeatedly declared that it would not participate in any peace negotiations if Ukraine did not agree to give up the five provinces annexed by Moscow – in other words 20% of Ukrainian territory – a demand that is obviously totally unacceptable for Ukraine.

This article is originally published on rfi.fr

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