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World Leaders Attend Peace Summit On Ukraine In Switzerland

World Leaders Attend Peace Summit On Ukraine In Switzerland

World leaders convened Saturday at the global peace summit at the luxury Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, in a show of support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan and to apply pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

More than 90 countries will participate, but China’s absence is notable. Russia is excluded from the conference.

Zelenskyy expressed hopes for a “just peace” in Ukraine.

“I believe that we will witness history being made here at the summit. May a just peace be established as soon as possible,” Zelenskyy said as the event began.

The Ukrainian president has touted the summit’s wide attendance as a success. “Ukraine never wanted this war. It’s a criminal and absolutely unprovoked aggression by Russia,” he said at a press conference alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd, who said the conflict had brought “unimaginable suffering” and violated international law.

Zelenskyy said he hopes that declarations stemming from the talks during the summit would shape the peacemaking process. But China’s reluctance to participate has subdued expectations that Russia will be isolated on the international stage.

The talks are expected to center on broader concerns triggered by the war, such as food and nuclear security, and a draft resolution that would identify Russia as the aggressor in its war on Ukraine, sources said.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is stepping in for U.S. President Joe Biden at the summit. Biden is returning to the U.S. from the G7 summit in Italy and will be attending a fundraising event for his reelection campaign in Los Angeles.

During a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy, Harris pledged America’s unwavering support for Ukraine and announced more than $1.5 billion in aid for Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and its humanitarian needs after Russia’s 27-month invasion.

“This war remains an utter failure for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Harris said. “It is in our interest to uphold international norms.”

The $1.5 billion pledge includes $500 million in new funding for energy resources and the redirecting of $324 million in previously announced funds toward emergency energy infrastructure repairs and other needs in Ukraine, the vice president’s office said.

“These efforts will help Ukraine respond to Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine energy infrastructure by supporting repair and recovery, improving Ukraine’s resilience to energy supply disruptions, and laying the groundwork to repair and expand Ukraine’s energy system,” Harris’ office said.

The vice president also announced more than $379 million in humanitarian assistance from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to help refugees and other people affected by the war.

At the G7 summit, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Saturday slammed as “propaganda” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand for Ukraine’s capitulation before any peace talks.

“It doesn’t seem particularly effective to me as a negotiation proposal to tell Ukraine that it must withdraw from Ukraine,” she said at the end of a G7 summit in Italy, and as an international conference on ending the conflict opened in Switzerland.

“Let’s say it seems more like a propaganda initiative … to create a narrative that wants to provide counter-information on where the responsibilities for the conflict lie,” she said.

The United States, Ukraine and NATO dismissed conditions for a Ukraine cease-fire set Friday by Putin, who said he would halt his offensive in Ukraine provided Kyiv withdraws from territories claimed by Moscow and abandons its bid to join NATO.

“Putin has occupied, illegally occupied, sovereign Ukrainian territory. He is not in any position to dictate to Ukraine what they must do to bring about peace,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at the end of a NATO meeting in Brussels Friday.

“He could end this today, if he chose to do that, and we call upon him to do that, and to leave Ukrainian sovereign territory.”

Zelenskyy said Putin’s cease-fire offer is an ultimatum that cannot be trusted.

Speaking to Italy’s SkyTG24 news channel on the sidelines of the G7 summit, Zelenskyy said he didn’t think Putin would stop his military advances even if his cease-fire demands were met.

NATO defense ministers approved a new plan Friday for reliable long-term security aid and military training for Ukraine.

Ukraine also signed a bilateral 10-year security agreement with the U.S. on the sidelines of the G7 meeting. Russian officials, including Putin, denounced the agreement as “null and void.”

Meanwhile, the war continued in Ukraine, where at least three civilians were killed by shelling that wounded 15 others late Friday and overnight into Saturday, according to regional officials.

The governor of Russia’s southern Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said in a social media post Saturday that Ukraine was behind shelling Friday that killed five people in a five-story apartment building in the town of Shebekino. Kyiv has not commented on strike.