Ukraine Open to Russia Attending Next Summit, Adviser Says

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine may invite Russia to the next meeting slated with international partners aimed at working out a formula for future peace talks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff said.

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The Kremlin has repeatedly made clear it has no intention of engaging with the Ukrainian plan. But Andriy Yermak, Zelenskiy’s top adviser, raised the possibility as working groups prepare the details for a follow-up gathering after last week’s summit in Switzerland.

There is no timeframe for a subsequent meeting — and the much-speculated prospect of a second summit didn’t appear in the final document of the June 15-16 meeting in Lucerne. While that meeting saw more than 100 nations and organizations in attendance, it fell short of its ultimate goal to build broader global support.

The working groups’ results “will be part of this joint plan, which will be supported by a number of countries” at a second meeting, Yermak said in a conference call late on Tuesday. “We think it will be possible to invite representative of Russia.”

Ukraine’s so-called blueprint for peace has always involved bringing Moscow to the negotiating table as the ultimate goal, but only after recruiting global leaders to Kyiv’s demands that Russian forces withdraw from occupied territory and recognize Ukraine’s borders.

But winning over governments from the Global South — above all China, but also countries including India and Brazil — has proved elusive. Many delegates outside the Western fold who came to the summit reinforced their point that a process that doesn’t involve Russia is bound to fail.

India, Brazil and South Africa on Sunday opted out of signing the final communique, rounding out the so-called BRICS nations. Meanwhile, an official from Saudi Arabia, which Zelenskiy had courted, warned that Kyiv must be prepared for “difficult compromise” to put an end to the conflict.

President Vladimir Putin set out terms for peace talks on the eve of the gathering, calling on Ukraine to first surrender four of its eastern regions to Russia as well as renounces its ambition to join NATO. The demand was derided by Western allies along with Ukraine, which has repeatedly said giving up any of its territory is unacceptable.

Still, Yermak described the Swiss meeting as a success. The second summit will be more representative, the chief adviser said, adding its goal was to “end the war and settle the crises” it created.

Ukraine is “realistic” and open to input from other nations, he said, and is seeking to unite “responsible countries” on the basis of Ukraine’s blueprint, Yermak said of the plan he has spearheaded. China and Brazil have put forward a plan for peace that involves the participation of both war parties.

The situation on the battlefield may be a factor in future talks. So far, both sides appear to be locked in a stalemate along the more than 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) front line. The recent arrival of US military aid helped replenish Ukraine’s firepower and halted some of Russia’s advances.

Putin embarked on a rare visit to North Korea, its long-time partner suspected of sending missiles and millions of rounds of munitions to help Russia’s grinding assault on Ukraine.

(Updates with detail on summit from third paragraph.)

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