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Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum

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August 3, 2023

It is always good news that one of the warring parties is initiating peace talks. The war in Ukraine is a proxy war and Ukraine is suffering the most. But Ukraine should not be the key host of the peace talks without the participation of Russia, the only other warring party. This Ukraine’s plan will not bear real result.

The following news reports about the imminent “peace talk” appear to show that Ukraine is calling all the shots including the agenda and participants of such a meeting. It is a false hope that Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula will move forward. If Russia were to accept Ukraine’s peace formula, there would be no war in the first place. It also appears that Ukraine has not faced the reality of the war and/or learned the lesson.

However, it is obvious that the US led west allies realized that their full support for Ukraine to keep fighting with Russia will not last much longer. Of course, Ukraine’s latest counter offense has not produced any tangible result is another reason. The 2024 general election in the US is a pressing agenda for President Biden to show that he still “oversees” the Ukraine war. Otherwise, Biden will be held accountable on the US campaign trails for the massive number of US dollars already went to Ukraine.

China has initiated her own peace movement which, unfortunately, was not well accepted by the US led west. So, the Chinese participation at Ukraine initiated peace talks is significant, only if Ukraine is realistic and works with the Chinese to develop a realistic peace formula that can form a base for Russia to consider. Otherwise, we wish Ukraine’s peace talks and peace summits the best of luck, but the chance for ending the proxy war is slim at the best.

In Saudi Arabia’s Ukraine Peace Talks, How to Measure Success?

Questions around the Jeddah talks include who will turn up, and whether participants will agree on a date for a peace summit

Laurence Norman

Aug. 3, 2023 9:58 am ET

Senior officials from up to 30 countries will meet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this weekend to talk about peace in Ukraine—but this won’t be a typical peace conference.

Russia won’t be there. The idea isn’t to come up with prescriptive terms for what a future peace deal between Ukraine and Russia should look like. And the Saudi hosts aren’t expected to do much in the way of communicating outcomes. As of Thursday, they hadn’t even publicly confirmed that the event is happening.

Nonetheless, the meeting is part of a potentially important process that Ukraine and its Western backers hope can lead to the crafting of a shared set of principles with important developing countries for framing future peace talks to Kyiv’s advantage. Many of those developing countries, such as Brazil, India and South Africa, have been largely neutral on the war.

Ukraine and European officials hope the process will lead to a major peace summit where the participants can sign off a shared vision of how the war should end.

Russian officials sent mixed signals this week about how they see the process, which started with a late-June meeting in Denmark. The Kremlin said it would be watching closely while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the gathering a “hoax.”

Here are some of the issues on which Ukraine and its backers will judge whether the Jeddah meeting is a success:

Who turns up?

Ukraine and Saudi Arabia sent invitations last week to around 30 countries, double the number of capitals that participated in June’s Copenhagen meeting. Some countries may dial in rather than turn up.

The U.S. and several European countries—including Britain, France, Germany and Poland—are expected to be there. So are South Africa, Turkey, India and Brazil. But there are doubts about how many developing countries will come and a big question surrounding China. Beijing ignored the Copenhagen talks, but U.S. and European officials said this week that China appeared likely to send a representative to Jeddah. As Russia’s most important foreign ally, China is seen as crucial to build traction behind the talks.

Path to peace summit?

The meeting will be seen as a major success if it produces a declaration at the end with a specific set of shared principles for framing peace talks and sets a date for the peace summit that Ukraine hopes to host this year. People involved in the process had talked down the likelihood of either of those happening, but a senior European diplomat said on Thursday that these goals aren’t impossible.

The Zelensky peace formula?

The extent to which the talks embrace parts of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan will be key. Diplomats said Ukraine pressed for broad backing for its plan at the Copenhagen meeting, and the key developing countries said that wasn’t going to happen. A particular sticking point: Ukraine’s call for all Russian troops to withdraw before peace talks can start is seen as an obstacle to peace by some countries.

European officials say they hope to use the Ukraine plan—which also deals with prisoners of war, nuclear safety and food and energy security—to frame the issues in Jeddah. They would be eager to see working groups of the participants discuss each of the points in more detail at some point. But they warn that whatever eventually emerges from the talks will likely be a list of key principles of international law that everyone can embrace: support for territorial sovereignty and integrity, the application of international law, and the need for conflict to be resolved through dialogue and not the use or threat of force.

Russia home alone?

From the start, Ukraine and its Western backers were clear that Russia wouldn’t be invited. They wanted to build support among developing countries for a durable and fair peace, which they believe should favor Ukraine as a victim of the Russian invasion. However, Western diplomats acknowledge that, at some point, if the talks are to lead to something, there will need to be eventual negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.

According to people involved in the talks, several developing countries questioned the absence of Russia in Copenhagen. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said this week his country would only participate in Jeddah if Russia was there. The extent of pressure from developing countries to bring Russia on board soon will be important.

Western unity?

Last month’s NATO summit underscored that even when only Ukraine and its Western backers are in the room, sparks can fly, with Zelensky initially denouncing a NATO communiqué that offered no clear path for Ukraine to join the alliance.

Tensions between Ukraine and its Western backers over the talks will be a sign of trouble. European diplomats have been pressing Ukraine to keep their ambitions in check for the talks and pushed back against some of Kyiv’s proposals, including its hope to win backing among developing countries for imposing sanctions on Russia. Several Western diplomats said after the Copenhagen talks that the degree of Ukraine’s flexibility will be make or break for the talks.

China expected at Ukrainian Peace Summit in Saudi Arabia this week, WSJ

Thu, August 3, 2023 at 9:26 AM PDT

The Chinese delegation is expected at the peace meeting in Saudi Arabia because China is changing its mind over the war that has dragged on for far too longThe Wall Street Journal wrote on Aug. 2.

China faces growing risks over the Russian full-scale war against Ukraine, the newspaper wrote.

Despite trying to remain neutral while covertly supporting Russia, the Russian withdrawal from the grain deal has irritated Beijing, one of the main consumers of Ukrainian grain.

China is changing its rhetoric and is much more likely now to consider the Ukrainian “Peace Formula” to resolve Russia’s war against Ukraine, the outlet wrote. Beijing plans to send a delegation to the peace meeting held in Saudi Arabia.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will also attend the peace talk, CNN wrote on July 31.

Saudi Arabia’s ties with China were one of the main reasons the country was chosen to host the summit.

On August 2, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that a meeting to discuss a peace formula will take place in Saudi Arabia this week, and announced a global peace summit in September.

Ukraine seeks global support for peace blueprint in Saudi talks

Andrew Gray and Tom Balmforth

Thu, August 3, 2023 at 8:44 AM PDT

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Ukraine and its allies aim to rally global support for a peace blueprint in talks hosted by Saudi Arabia this weekend but a question mark hangs over whether China will take part.

Ukrainian and Western diplomats hope the meeting in Jeddah of national security advisers and other senior officials from some 40 countries will agree on key principles that would underpin any peace settlement to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian, Russian and international officials say there is no prospect of direct peace talks between Ukraine and Russia at the moment, as the war continues to rage and Kyiv seeks to reclaim territory through a counter-offensive.

“One of the main aims of this round of negotiations will be to finally fix a common understanding of what the 10 points are about,” Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskiy’s chief diplomatic adviser, told Reuters on Thursday.

But Western officials concede the initiative can put only limited pressure on Moscow without China, which has maintained close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia and rejected international calls to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.

“I do think it’s critical that not just India, Brazil, and other key partners are participating but also that China is sitting at the table and actually talking peace,” said a senior European Commission official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

GRAIN DEAL

In seeking to win over Global South countries, Western officials say they will stress that food prices have jumped since Russia quit a deal to allow safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea and carried out a string of air strikes on Ukraine’s port facilities.

“We’ll be for sure making this point and loud and clear,” the European Commission official said.

Saudi Arabia has not commented publicly on the weekend talks but Ukrainian and Western officials said the country’s decision to host the meeting reflected a desire by Riyadh to play a prominent diplomatic role in efforts to resolve the conflict.

Zelenskiy attended an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia in May this year, at which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his readiness to mediate in the war.

This is still the start of the process,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said on Wednesday. “Remember, there’s still active fighting in Ukraine.”

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