OPINION

A step towards peace in Ukraine

Although other proposals will be discussed at the Summit on peace in Ukraine, we believe that the ten-point Ukrainian peace formula still represents the most credible basis for future peace negotiations

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, Photo: Reuters
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

This weekend I will attend the Summit on Peace in Ukraine in Switzerland, which is not a platform for direct negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, but aims to find, among the participating countries, common parameters for peace based on international law and the UN Charter.

The summit will also address certain practical issues that require Russia's engagement: improving nuclear security, facilitating prisoner exchanges, and securing the return of large numbers of Ukrainian children abducted and taken to Russia, a practice reminiscent of darker periods in European history. The focus will also be on ensuring free navigation and protecting the Black Sea port infrastructure. The impact of aggression on Ukraine extends far beyond its borders. A prolonged or frozen conflict would prolong instability and threaten global food security and economic stability. Progress in these areas could eventually open up opportunities for talks with Russia in other areas.

This war and its outcome are of existential importance for Ukraine, but also for European security. Any ceasefire that would allow Russia to maintain its repressive regime in the occupied territories would be a reward for aggression, an undermining of international law, and would encourage further Russian territorial expansion. All UN reports since 2022 contain numerous evidences of brutal repression against Ukrainians and systematic violations of human rights in occupied Ukraine.

Russia has chosen to wage an unprovoked war, driven by imperial aspirations, while Ukraine is forced to fight and defend its mere right to exist.

No one longs for peace more than Ukrainians, but the right conditions for peace are important both for Ukraine and for the whole world. Russia has chosen to wage an unprovoked war, driven by imperial aspirations, while Ukraine is waging a war out of necessity, defending its mere right to exist. A few days ago in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin repeated that he strives for complete victory on the battlefield and that he sees no need for an immediate end to the war. Just a few weeks ago, he launched a new offensive against Kharkiv. Its missiles have destroyed much of Ukraine's energy infrastructure and are killing Ukrainian civilians every day.

Meanwhile, his emissaries tour the world dissuading countries from participating in the Peace Summit. Russia is clearly not ready to negotiate in good faith and would use any ceasefire to rearm and attack. Russian narratives of peace are nothing more than covert attempts to legitimize Russia's war of conquest for territorial expansion.

Therefore, Russia's announcement that it will not attend the summit in Switzerland, even if invited, is not unexpected. However, the participation of nearly a hundred countries and organizations from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America indicates strong international support for ending the war based on the UN Charter. It is of crucial importance to encourage Ukraine, as a victim of Russian aggression, before any possible engagement with Russia.

Although other proposals will be discussed at the Summit, we believe that the ten-point Ukrainian peace formula still represents the most credible basis for future peace negotiations. Proposals that do not refer to the UN Charter and ignore Ukraine's political sovereignty, territorial integrity and right to self-defense would reward the aggressor and legitimize Russia's attempts to forcibly change borders. Such proposals cannot ensure lasting peace. In this sense, China's non-appearance in Switzerland and its efforts to dissuade others from participating do not support China's claims of neutrality.

The EU wants peace in Ukraine. A diplomatic solution that would respect international norms would be supported by all EU member states. In parallel, we must continue to follow up our diplomatic efforts with military support, in accordance with Ukraine's inherent right to self-defense, as stated in Article 51 of the UN Charter. With Putin showing no willingness to negotiate in good faith, Europe's continued military support for Ukraine remains as important to achieving peace in Ukraine as our support for a diplomatic approach.

It is true that wars often end in peace agreements, but the content of this peace agreement is of crucial importance for the security of Europe and the world and for the rules-based international order. Let the Peace Summit in Switzerland be the first step towards a just peace in Ukraine, based on the UN Charter.

The author is the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission

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