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Ukraine Peace Plan Talks in Davos End With No Clear Path Forward

(Bloomberg) -- A meeting of national security advisers focused on Ukraine’s peace blueprint ended in Davos with no clear path forward ahead of the arrival of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the global gathering on Tuesday.

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Kyiv had hoped the meeting, held before the official start of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain town, would help build backing for its 10-point peace plan among countries from the Global South, many of which have been reluctant to support Kyiv since Russia’s invasion almost two years ago.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who co-chaired the meeting, said the gathering clarified points up for discussion at some stage, but that neither Ukraine nor Russia - which wasn’t invited - is prepared to make territorial concessions. A leader-level meeting that Ukraine is keen to hold hasn’t been scheduled.

At a press conference, presidential aide Andriy Yermak said Ukraine wasn’t pressured by partners to discuss giving up territory to Russia, almost two years after the invasion. A return to 1991 borders remains Ukraine’s strategic goal, said Defense Secretary Rustem Umerov. That would include Crimea, the peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

In general, Ukraine aims to leverage the annual gathering of political and business leaders in Davos this week to rekindle support and attention for its fight against Russia’s invasion.

Some 83 delegations - representatives of countries and international organizations - were present on Sunday for the fourth meeting in a series that dates back to June. That included 18 partners from Asia and 12 from Africa, according to a European Union readout. China, a key ally of Russia, didn’t attend.

Zelenskiy will be in the Swiss capital Bern on Monday and in Davos on Tuesday, where he’s expected to hold bilateral meetings and make a high-profile address. Ukraine will also host round-tables with investors and CEOs, focused on postwar reconstruction and the use of frozen Russian assets.

The outreach comes as the approval of more than $100 billion in vital aid the war effort has stalled in Washington and Brussels, and after Ukraine’s months-long counteroffensive failed to deliver a battlefield breakthrough. Further distracting the global elite’s minds are the Israel-Hamas conflict and Iran-backed Houthi attacks in the Red Sea that have upended global trade, not to mention the potential reelection of Donald Trump later this year.

Amid multiplying global crises, Zelenskiy continues to portray Ukraine’s peace formula, first laid out in late 2022, as the basis for any talks with Russia.

Cassis said Sunday’s meeting is probably the final one in the current format, leaving the next steps unclear. Some nations believe the leader-level gathering hoped for by Ukraine would be premature, while others want to immediately involve Russia in the process.

The US, meanwhile, wants Ukraine to sharpen its plan for fighting back against Russia’s invasion - a subject expected to be raised with Zelenskiy in Davos. Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two, will enter its third year on Feb. 24.

Read more: US Set to Push Zelenskiy at Davos for Clearer War Plan

The main condition of Zelenskiy’s peace formula is the full withdrawal of Russian troops, a demand the Kremlin has rejected. Ukraine has ruled out direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s denounced the meetings — held earlier in Denmark, Saudi Arabia and Malta - as illegitimate.

Separately on Sunday, Ukraine said it had started talks with neighboring Romania on security guarantees. Romania becomes the ninth country to hold bilateral security talks with Kyiv.

--With assistance from Daryna Krasnolutska and Olesia Safronova.

(Updates starting in first paragraph with day of Zelenskiy’s’ arrival in Davos.)

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