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Ukraine war: Swiss peace summit begins as Zelensky rejects Putin ‘ultimatum’



Ukraine war: Swiss peace summit begins as Zelensky rejects Putin ‘ultimatum’

Zelensky says China trying to undermine Ukraine peace summit

Almost 100 nations are gathering in Switzerland this weekend to participate in peace talks led by president Volodymyr Zelensky, as he seeks to drum up support for a plan to end the Ukraine conflict.

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 15-16 June meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.

Russia was not invited to the talks, while China – its most important ally – has refused to attend.

Seeking to distract from the Swiss government-hosted talks near Lucerne, Vladimir Putin set out yesterday the terms under which Russia would agree to a ceasefire in Ukraine.

They follow a similar pattern to previous statements by Russian officials and include conditions Ukraine has already rejected outright, including the permanent transfer of four eastern Ukrainian provinces Russia is currently occupying parts of, and a formal commitment that Kyiv will never join Nato.

Zelensky dismissed it as an unacceptable “ultimatum” while the US said Putin could “end [the war] today if he chose”.


Russian plane violated Swedish airspace on Friday, military says

A Russian military aircraft briefly violated Swedish airspace east of the Baltic island of Gotland on Friday and was met by Swedish fighter jets, the Nordic country’s armed forces said on Saturday.

The Swedish armed forces said in a statement that the Russian military aircraft, a SU-24, had been hailed with a warning but failed to respond after which two Swedish Gripen fighters were sent up to meet it.

Sweden’s military said the airspace violation had been brief.

“The Russian actions are not acceptable and show a lack of respect for our territorial integrity,” Swedish air force chief Jonas Wikman said. “We followed the entire chain of events and were in place to intervene.”

Russia Black Sea
Russia Black Sea (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

Barney Davis15 June 2024 14:12


Fire as Russian rocket nearly strikes Mykolayiv settlement

The Russian army continues to put pressure on Ukrainian frontlines with artillery shelling, airstrikes, and a large number of attack drones.

In an update on Saturday, the Southern Defense Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram: “The enemy launched a rocket attack on the Mykolayiv region.

“As a result of the impact, a fire broke out in an open area outside the settlement, which was promptly extinguished.

“The occupiers continue to press with artillery fire, carry out airstrikes, use a large number of strike drones of various types, and actively conduct aerial reconnaissance. Over the past day, the flight of 213 reconnaissance UAVs was recorded in the operational zone.”

Barney Davis15 June 2024 13:06


Zelensky said ‘we are dealing with terrorists’ on eve of peace summitt

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to SkyTG24 on the eve of the opening of the inaugural Peace Summit in Switzerland.

“The road to peace is a long one because we are dealing with terrorists, and we must follow the right path, based on the UN Charter and international law.

“We must have the same basis. And we are doing this without breaking the law, without violating people’s rights,” he said.

Ukraine dismissed ceasefire conditions announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday as “absurd”, saying he was trying to mislead world powers and undermine genuine peace efforts.

Putin said in a speech Russia would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry described his words as “manipulative statements aimed at misleading the international community (and) undermining diplomatic efforts to achieve a just peace”.


Andre Langlois15 June 2024 12:12


Ukraine ‘repels seven Russian attacks’ in past 24 hours

Ukrainian forces said they had repelled seven enemy attacks in Orikhiv and one on the bank of the Dnipro River.

The Southern Defense Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram: “In the operational zone of the Southern Defence Forces, daily counter-battery confrontation and repelling enemy assaults continues.

“The enemy does not abandon his intention to knock out our units from their occupied positions.

“Over the past day, the occupiers have carried out 7 assaults in the Orihiv direction. They had no success.

“On the left bank of the Dnipro, in the temporarily occupied Kherson Oblast, the enemy launched 1 assault. Having suffered losses, he retreated to his original positions. The defence forces continue to carry out comprehensive measures to maintain positions.”

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Barney Davis15 June 2024 09:59


Putin’s peace proposals aren’t serious, says German chancellor

The G7 leaders did not discuss Russian president Vladimir Putin’s purported proposal for peace on Friday “since everyone knew they were not serious”, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

“Everyone knows that this was proposal wasn’t meant seriously, but had something to do with the peace conference in Switzerland,” he told ZDF television in an interview.

Speaking from Italy shortly before leaving for Switzerland, where the Ukraine peace conference opens today, Scholz said Putin’s proposals – for Ukraine to fully abandon four provinces Russia has occupied in part, stop fighting and drop its ambition of Nato membership – were aimed only at distracting from the summit.

World leaders are gathering in Switzerland for talks aimed at pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine.

Arpan Rai15 June 2024 08:52


World leaders gather in Switzerland with Putin noticeably absent

The presidents of Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Somalia will join many Western heads of state and government and other leaders at a conference this weekend, aiming to plot out first steps toward peace in Ukraine – with Russia notably absent.

Swiss officials hosting the conference say more than 50 heads of state and government, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, will join the gathering at the Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne. Some 100 delegations including European bodies and the United Nations will be on hand.

Who will show up – and who will not – has become one of the key stakes of a meeting that critics say will be useless without the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and is pushing ahead with the war.

US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to attend while Turkey and Saudi Arabia have dispatched their foreign ministers. Key developing countries such as Brazil, an observer at the event, India and South Africa will be represented at lower levels.

Andre Langlois15 June 2024 08:35


Ukraine employs a flexible defence amid wait for new Western ammo

Ukrainian firepower has been improving since US lawmakers approved a much-needed military aid package this spring, though not quickly enough to halt the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

New weapons and ammunition have been trickling to the front line since Joe Biden signed off on the massive aid package in April. But it will take weeks, if not months, for Ukraine to fully replenish its depleted stocks.

Kyiv has turned to a bend-but-don’t-break strategy to buy time until it can get more Western weapons and ammunition to the front. By ceding some territory, Ukraine has been able to fight from better defended positions, according to interviews with senior Ukrainian military leaders, soldiers and officers in the field, and analysts.

Although the influx of Western munitions has shrunk Kyiv’s glaring artillery disadvantage, Moscow’s forces are still gaining ground along the snaking front line and will likely continue to do so through the summer, when the drier ground and longer days will only aid their push.

Ukraine is still on the defensive in the Donetsk region, enabling Moscow’s forces to inflict heavy losses during Ukrainian troop rotations and bringing them closer to crucial Ukrainian supply routes.

Arpan Rai15 June 2024 08:17


Kyiv’s diplomatic clout to be tested in Swiss peace talks

Peace talks taking place in Switzerland today and tomorrow represent a test of Ukraine’s diplomatic clout, with China’s decision to stay away already limiting the extent to which the summit can put pressure on Russia.

Russia has not been invited to the talks, while the Kremlin dismissed the event as a waste of time and claimed it had no interest in attending. China had said it would consider taking part, but ultimately declined because Russia would not be there.

Without China, hopes of isolating Moscow have faded, while recent military reverses have put Kyiv on the back foot. The war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has also diverted attention from Ukraine.

“The summit risks showing the limits of Ukrainian diplomacy,” said Richard Gowan, UN Director at the International Crisis Group. “Nonetheless, it is also a chance for Ukraine to remind the world that it is defending the principles of the UN Charter.”

“It’s clear that at the moment, in geopolitical terms, for China the special relationship with Russia takes precedence over any other consideration,” said Bernardino Regazzoni, a former Swiss ambassador to China.

“What can (Zelensky) hope for out of it?” said Daniel Woker, a former Swiss ambassador. “Another small step forward in international solidarity with Ukraine as the victim of Russian aggression.”

The talks are expected to focus on broader concerns triggered by the war, such as food and nuclear security and freedom of navigation, and a draft of the final declaration identifies Russia as the aggressor in the conflict, sources said.

Arpan Rai15 June 2024 07:59


Putin promises ceasefire if Ukraine withdraws troops from four occupied Ukrainian regions

Vladimir Putin has promised to “immediately” order a ceasefire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv starts to withdraw troops from the four occupied Ukrainian regions and renounces plans to join Nato.

Such a deal appears a non-starter for Kyiv, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its territory.

“We will do it immediately,” Mr Putin said in a speech at the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow.

His remarks came as leaders of the G7 leaders met in Italy and as Switzerland prepared to host scores of world leaders this weekend to try to map out first steps toward peace in Ukraine.

Mr Putin said his proposal is aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it”, and stressed that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay”.

Broader demands for peace that the Russian leader listed included Ukraine‘s non-nuclear status, restrictions on its military force and protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking population in the country.

“We’re urging to turn this tragic page of history and to begin restoring, step-by-step, restore the unity between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe in general,” Mr Putin said.

Mr Putin’s remarks represented a rare occasion in which he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, but it did not include any new demands.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 June 2024 07:00


World leaders reach Switzerland as Zelensky’s peace talks begin today

World leaders are joining Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky at a summit in Switzerland starting today to explore ways of ending the deadliest conflict in Europe since the Second World War.

Russia hasn’t been invited to the event and China has declined, but the Swiss government says 92 countries will be represented. 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 15-16 June 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,” Zelensky said in Berlin earlier this week, while acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.

Organisers 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.

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.

Several diplomats said Saudi Arabia is among the favourites, with other Middle Eastern states also possible.

Zelensky visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss the summit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister will attend, Switzerland said.

Arpan Rai15 June 2024 06:36

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