Ukraine war: Zelensky seeks show of support at giant Swiss summit

Joe Biden will not come in person, a decision that upset Mr Zelensky. And the attempts to get key countries from the “Global South” – not instinctive allies of Ukraine – to sign up, were only partially successful.

India, Brazil and China are all either no-shows or sending low level representatives.

Russian officials have been lining up to dismiss the event as insignificant. It is “worthless” and a “dead end”, according to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. But Moscow has been pushing its allies to boycott the summit nonetheless.

“That is a minus,” Oleksandr Merezhko admits. “It seems China decided to support its strategic partner without limits, Russia, not the peace process: the aggressor, not the peace.”

On the eve of the event, Vladimir Putin tried to drop another spanner in the works by outlining his own conditions for a supposed peace: the man who invaded Ukraine, unprovoked, now wants Kyiv to capitulate.

Amongst other things, Mr Putin demands Ukraine hand over all four regions that Russia claims to have annexed, including areas that remain under Kyiv’s control.

Kyiv dismissed that right away as “ludicrous”.

The meeting on Lake Lucerne will home in on three of the least contentious points in President Zelensky’s peace formula: the issues of nuclear security, getting food to global markets and getting abducted Ukrainian children and prisoners back home.

Straying beyond that is unlikely to be productive.

Not right now, when neither Ukraine nor Russia is ready to give up the fight.

“I think from the Ukrainian perspective, looking at what’s going on the frontlines, what they really need is not a commitment to peace, certainly not at any cost,” Sam Greene argues, of Kyiv’s allies.

“They need a commitment to winning the war.”

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