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World leaders met in Switzerland to discuss a roadmap to peace for Ukraine

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Who is Doug Burgum? We'll ask an expert in North Dakota politics why that state's governor has emerged as a contender for Vice President on the GOP ticket. First, though, Switzerland hosted a summit this weekend, organized by Ukraine and intended to set the foundation for future peace negotiations.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Envoys and leaders of more than 90 nations participated, and most signed a statement saying Ukraine's borders must be respected in any deal to end the war.

MARTÍNEZ: But Russia wasn't invited, and one of its backers, China, declined to attend. Joining us now to discuss this is NPR's Ukraine correspondent Joanna Kakissis, who is in Kyiv. Joanna, since Russia was not there, I mean, how does this summit get any closer to a peaceful resolution of this war?

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: So, A, this summit was not supposed to be about negotiating peace because, as you said, Russia was not invited, but what this gathering tried to do instead is try to build solidarity among participating nations to support Ukraine's vision of peace. Ukraine needs as many nations as possible to support its conditions for any future peace talks as leverage against Russia. These conditions include issues of global concern, such as food security and nuclear safety, as well as the return of thousands of deported Ukrainian children and prisoners of war. Ukraine also insists that Russian troops must withdraw from all Ukrainian land. Eighty of the 92 nations participating in the summit signed a communique supporting this.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, so who did not sign this statement, and why?

KAKISSIS: Well, A, India, Mexico, South Africa and Saudi Arabia were among the nations that did not sign. These are countries that have maintained official neutrality during this war. Here's Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAISAL BIN FARHAN AL SAUD: Any credible process will need Russia's participation. We hope the outcomes of this summit reflect those aims.

BIN FARHAN: Any credible process will need Russia's participation. We hope the outcomes of this summit reflect those aims.

KAKISSIS: Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Russia wasn't invited because it started this war, and because its demands to end it are unreasonable.

MARTÍNEZ: So what are those demands?

KAKISSIS: Well, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine must give up not only the land that Russia currently occupies, but also land under Ukrainian control, and that Ukraine must drop its NATO bid. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan responded to Putin's demands at the summit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAKE SULLIVAN: No responsible nation can say that is a reasonable basis for peace. It defies the U.N. charter. It defies basic morality. It defies basic common sense.

KAKISSIS: Many Western leaders say you can't have peace until Putin is forced to see that the costs of Russia's war on Ukraine outweigh its benefits. And right now, the war has many benefits for the Kremlin, especially the longer it drags on.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. The war is well into its third year. Do Ukrainians have any hope the summit will end it soon?

KAKISSIS: Well, you know, from what we've heard from reporting all over Ukraine, Ukrainians are tired and pessimistic. We spoke to a soldier. His name is Serhiy. He declined to give his last name for security reasons, but he said he didn't see how the summit would help end the war quickly.

SERHIY: (Speaking Ukrainian).

KAKISSIS: He told us that the longer the war goes on, the more hopeless soldiers and the rest of society feel. He says his fellow soldiers are exhausted by long deployments and are losing the energy to fight a war with no end in sight. And during his closing remarks at the summit, President Zelenskyy made it clear that he knows the clock is ticking.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: And we don't have time for prolonged work. Moving to peace means acting fast. Preparations will take months, not years.

KAKISSIS: He says preparation for a second summit has already begun and that he's pushing to end a war that is threatening his country's very existence.

MARTÍNEZ: That is NPR's Joanna Kakissis in Kyiv. Joanna, thank you.

KAKISSIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.
A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.