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World leaders join major Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland – but no Russia or China

Image: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Switzerland on Friday ahead of a peace summit set to take place over the weekend. | Michael Buholzer/Pool/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource. Video: Addressing the Ukrainian peace summit in Switzerland, President Zelensky said that “may justice be established as soon as possible.” | FDFA
More than 100 countries and organizations have gathered for a major conference in Switzerland dedicated to setting out a path toward peace between Ukraine and Russia, but there will be no delegation from Moscow.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is aiming to use the meeting, which is being held at a resort near Lucerne, to drum up support for the 10-point peace plan he first outlined late in 2022.
“Everything that will be agreed upon at the summit today will be a part of the peace-making process that we all need,” Zelensky said at a news conference with Swiss President Viola Amherd before the conference began. “I believe that we will witness history being made here.”
Most Western governments have sent representatives at a senior level. US Vice President Kamala Harris is attending and announced that Washington will supply Kyiv with an aid package of more than $1.5 billion to help the country rebuild its battered infrastructure and address humanitarian needs stemming from the conflict, according to a statement from the White House on Saturday.
“This war remains an utter failure for Putin. I am here in Switzerland to stand with Ukraine and the leaders from around the world in support of a just and lasting peace,” Harris said.
Heads of state and government from several European states, including France, Germany and the UK are also joining, as is Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
However, China will not attend. It has said that any such meeting needs to be attended by both Russia and Ukraine.
Zelensky’s plan includes demands for a cessation of hostilities, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian soil and the restoration of Ukraine’s pre-war borders with Russia.
It also calls for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.
“Ukraine never wanted this war, it’s a criminal and absolutely unprovoked aggression of Russia. And the only one who wanted it was Putin,” Zelensky said.
Russia has expressed little interest in agreeing to those terms and has shown no sign of compromise when it comes to the territorial issues.
On Friday, the day before the summit was set to kick off, Russian President Vladimir Putin restated the Kremlin’s own peace plan, which Ukraine is unlikely to ever agree to.
The proposal calls for Ukrainian troops withdraw from four southern and eastern regions of Ukrainian territory that Moscow said it would annex in violation of international law and demands Kyiv abandon its bid to join NATO.
While Russian forces have made modest gains in two of the regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – in recent months, they are far from occupying all four, which include Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Putin said later in the day that nearly 700,000 Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine, a hike from the 617,000 he reported during a end-of-year press conference in 2023.
Zelensky responded in an interview with Italian television that “the fact that Putin says to give them part of our territories, occupied and unoccupied, speaks about several regions of our country, and he will stop (there), and there will be no frozen conflict.”
“The messages are the same as Hitler’s,” said Zelensky
“Putin understands that there will be a peace summit. That most of the world is on the side of Ukraine, on the side of life. And on the eve of the summit, amid air raid sirens, people being killed and missile attacks, he seems to be talking about some kind of ultimatum,” Zelensky added.
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