Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
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Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.

World leaders will join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a summit this weekend to explore ways of ending the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, but Russia isn't invited and the event will fall short of Kyiv's aim of isolating Moscow.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan are among those set to attend the June 15-16 meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.

India, which has helped Moscow survive the shock of economic sanctions, is expected to send a delegation. Turkey and Hungary, which similarly maintain cordial ties with Russia, will be represented by their foreign ministers.

But despite months of intense Ukrainian and Swiss lobbying, some others will not be there, most notably China, a key consumer of Russian oil and supplier of goods that help Moscow maintain its manufacturing base.

"This meeting is already a result," Zelenskiy said in Berlin on Tuesday, while acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.

Ninety-two countries and eight organizations will attend, Switzerland said. Organizers preparing a joint statement have battled to strike a balance between condemning Russia's actions and securing as many participants as possible, diplomats say.

A final draft of the summit declaration refers to Russia's "war" against Ukraine, and also underlines commitment to the UN charter and respect for international law, according to two people familiar with the document.

Participants not in agreement with the declaration have until the end of Friday to opt out, the sources said.

The Swiss foreign ministry declined to comment.

Switzerland wants the summit to pave the way for a "future peace process" in which Russia takes part - and to determine which country could take on the next phase.

'FUTILE'

The idea of a summit was originally floated after Zelenskiy presented a 10-point peace plan in late 2022.

Ulrich Schmid, a political scientist and Eastern Europe expert at the University of St. Gallen, said the summit appeared to be "a mixed bag" so far, given the show of support from some quarters and China's absence.

"Then the question arises: is peace actually doable?" Schmid added. "As long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is in power... it will be difficult."

Putin said on Friday that Russia would cease fire and enter peace talks if Ukraine dropped its NATO ambitions and withdrew its forces from four Ukrainian regions claimed by Moscow. Kyiv has repeatedly said its territorial integrity is non-negotiable.

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, has described the idea of a summit to which it is not invited as "futile".

Moscow casts its "special military operation" in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West say this is nonsense and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.

Given such entrenched differences, the summit will focus on parts of Zelenskiy's plan broad enough to be palatable to most, if not all, participants. These include the need to guarantee food security, nuclear safety, freedom of navigation, prisoner exchanges, and the return of children, officials said.

Meanwhile, China, along with Brazil, is pushing a separate peace plan for Ukraine that calls for the participation of both warring parties. Moscow has voiced its support for Beijing's efforts to end the conflict.

Kyiv has not hidden its frustration at China's decision to skip the Swiss summit. Zelenskiy even accused Beijing of helping Russia to disrupt it, an extraordinary outburst against a global superpower with unrivalled influence over Moscow.

On the battlefield, the gathering comes at a difficult time for Ukraine. Russian troops, who control around 18% of Ukrainian territory, are advancing in the east in a war that has killed tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, left villages, towns and cities in ruins and uprooted millions.



EU Commission Boss Von der Leyen Elected for 2nd Five-Year Term

Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
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EU Commission Boss Von der Leyen Elected for 2nd Five-Year Term

Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after being chosen President of the European Commission for a second term, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 18, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

Ursula von der Leyen won a second term as president of the European Commission on Thursday after pledging to create a continental "defense union" and to stay the course on Europe's green transition while cushioning its burden on industry.
Members of the European Parliament backed von der Leyen's bid for another five-year term at the helm of the European Union's powerful executive body with 401 votes in her favor and 284 against in a secret ballot in the 720-member chamber.
In an address to the Parliament in Strasbourg earlier in the day, von der Leyen, 65, laid out a program focused on prosperity and security, shaped by the challenges of Russia's war in Ukraine, global economic competition and climate change.
"The next five years will define Europe’s place in the world for the next five decades. It will decide whether we shape our own future or let it be shaped by events or by others," von der Leyen said ahead of the vote.
She stressed the need not to backtrack on the "Green Deal" transformation of the EU economy to fight climate change - a key pledge for Green lawmakers, who joined her core coalition of center-right, center-left and liberal groups in supporting her.
After pledging to support Ukraine for as long as it takes in its fight against Russia, von der Leyen said Europe's liberty was at stake and that it must invest more in defense.

Von der Leyen pledged to create "a true European Defense Union,” with flagship projects on air and cyber defense.
The plan sparked criticism from the Kremlin, which said it reflected an attitude of "militarization (and) confrontation.”

She also vowed to tackle housing shortages across Europe and said she would appoint a commissioner for the Mediterranean region due to the multiple challenges it faces.
She also took a swipe at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his recent visit to Russia shortly after his country took over the rotating six-month EU presidency.
"This so-called peace mission was nothing but an appeasement mission,” von der Leyen said as she vowed that Europe would remain shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine.