Ukraine Seeks New Summit With Russia Ahead of US Elections

Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during the Summit on Peace in Ukraine in Lucerne, Switzerland on June 15. (Sedat Suna/Photographer: Sedat Suna/Getty I)

(Bloomberg) -- Kyiv wants to convene a second meeting to achieve a fair peace settlement in Ukraine before the US elections in November, this time with Russia attending, according to people familiar with the matter.

The plan follows the first summit that took place in Switzerland last month and included representatives from more than 90 countries. Russia was not invited, several states sent lower-level delegations and Ukraine’s bid to win over key nations from the Global South faltered as some declined to sign on to a final statement.

Many of those countries — as well as China which didn’t join the Swiss meeting — have long argued that Moscow should be part of the talks. Beijing has put forward its own proposals with Brazil to bring about an end to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The push to organize the meeting before the US elections points to a sense of urgency on the part of Ukraine as it faces the prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has boasted that he’ll end the war by the time he’s inaugurated in January and has argued against the US’s continued military support for Kyiv. 

“Russia is open to dialogue, but it’s necessary to understand what it’s about,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, the Interfax news service reported.

Ukraine has been keen to use the summit process as a pathway to reaching a broad agreement on a set of key principles that would form the basis of a just peace before engaging with Russia. The Swiss summit focused on nuclear safety, food security and returning abducted children, and it is around those issues that initial contact with Russian officials could be established.   

A Ukrainian official confirmed the plan to hold a second summit before the US elections. Several officials from some western allied nations said any meeting would need to be carefully organized with a clear purpose and expectations managed.

Some US officials, however, are unconvinced a summit with Russia and Ukraine would happen. They declined to be named because the talks are private.

Speaking at the Reagan Institute in Washington on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the US to help organize the second summit to make it “more powerful and truly decisive.”

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(Updates with Kremlin comment in the fifth paragraph.)

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