Ukraine expects difficult but successful peace talks in Saudi Arabia

The forum held in Jeddah includes 40 countries but excludes Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at the 32nd Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 19, 2023. EPA
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Talks in Saudi Arabia this weekend to find a peaceful settlement to end the war in Ukraine will be difficult, but Kyiv is counting on persuading more countries to back its peace formula, the head of Kyiv's delegation said on Friday.

Ukraine and its allies hope the meeting in Jeddah of national security advisers and other senior officials from about 40 countries will agree on key principles on how to end the conflict in Ukraine.

“I expect that the conversation will be difficult, but behind us is truth, behind us – goodness,” Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office and his leading envoy for the talks, said on Friday in a television interview.

The forum excludes Russia, but the Kremlin said it will “keep an eye” on the meeting.

China, which has firm ties with Russia, said on Friday it will send Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui for the talks.

“We have many disagreements and we have heard different positions, but it is important that our principles are shared,” Mr Li said.

Ukrainian, Russian and international officials said 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 counteroffensive.

But Ukraine aims first to build a bigger coalition of diplomatic support beyond its core western backers by reaching out to Global South countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa, many of which have remained publicly neutral.

Mr Zelenskyy said he hoped the initiative will lead to a “peace summit” of world leaders this autumn to endorse the principles, based on his 10-point formula for a settlement.

Moscow has rejected Mr Zelenskyy's peace formula.

Updated: August 05, 2023, 8:13 AM