Only efforts involving Russia, Ukraine will lead to peace: India at Swiss summit | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Only efforts involving Russia, Ukraine will lead to peace: India at Swiss summit

Jun 16, 2024 08:34 PM IST

India has decided not to associate itself with joint communique or any other document emerging from the peace summit because of its position on Russia & Ukraine

India believes only a “sincere and practical engagement” between Russia and Ukraine can lead to enduring peace, a top Indian diplomat on Sunday told a peace summit hosted by Switzerland that was attended by more than 90 countries.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives for a photograph with heads of states and country representatives during the Summit on peace in Ukraine at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne, in Switzerland on June 15, 2024. (AFP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives for a photograph with heads of states and country representatives during the Summit on peace in Ukraine at the luxury Burgenstock resort, near Lucerne, in Switzerland on June 15, 2024. (AFP)

Secretary (West) Pavan Kapoor of the external affairs ministry further said India wouldn’t associate itself with the joint communique or any document emerging from the peace summit because of its position that options acceptable to both Russia and Ukraine alone can lead to abiding peace. The Indian delegation attended only the opening and closing plenary sessions.

Russia wasn’t invited to the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, which was hosted by Switzerland at the resort of Bürgenstock at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Ukraine and several Western states lobbied for the participation of India’s top leadership, but the Indian side had concerns about being seen as signing up to an initiative that completely excluded its strategic partner Russia.

In a brief address to the gathering that lasted less than two minutes, Kapoor said India’s participation in the peace summit and several earlier meetings of senior officials based on Ukraine’s peace formula was in line with “our clear and consistent approach that enduring peace can be achieved only through dialogue and diplomacy”.

He said: “We continue to believe that such a peace requires bringing together all stakeholders and a sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict.”

While India will continue to engage with all stakeholders and the two parties to the conflict to “contribute to all earnest efforts to achieve lasting peace in Ukraine”, it decided not to endorse any joint communique emerging from the summit, Kapoor said.

“In our view, only those options acceptable to both parties can lead to abiding peace. In line with this approach, we have decided to avoid association with the joint communique or any other document emerging from this summit,” he said.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, India has refrained from publicly criticising Moscow’s actions. India was initially criticised when it ramped up purchases of discounted Russian commodities such as oil and fertilisers after the imposition of Western sanctions, but this has eased over the past year.

The Indian side has defended its long-standing strategic relationship with Russia, on which it relies for almost 60% of its military hardware, and said the energy purchases were aimed at ensuring the best deal for Indian citizens.

India has consistently pushed for dialogue and diplomacy to find a resolution to the Ukraine conflict, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a 2022 meeting that “today’s era is not of war”.

Kapoor said India felt it was important to join the peace summit to explore the “way forward to a negotiated settlement of a very complex and pressing issue”. India shares the global concern at the situation in Ukraine and “supports any collective desire to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict”, he added.

Besides India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates were among the countries that didn’t sign the final communique.

A total of 92 countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, Italy and Japan, and eight organisations, including the United Nations and the European Commission, participated in the two-day summit.

Eighty countries backed the communique that called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be the foundation of any peace agreement to end Russia’s war. The communique, which also focused on issues such as nuclear safety, food security and the exchange of prisoners, said the UN Charter and “respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty...can and will serve as a basis for achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine”.

While China decided not to attend, Russia, which wasn’t invited and made it clear it didn’t want to attend, described the summit as a waste of time and instead put forward rival peace proposals.

Switzerland’s foreign ministry said the aim of the summit was to initiate a peace process and to frame steps leading to such a process. “Switzerland is contributing to the preparation of possible future peace forums by hosting the Summit on Peace in Ukraine,” it said in an official statement.

All states present at the summit can contribute ideas for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, and by hosting the summit, Switzerland is facilitating discussions that can lead to a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, the statement said.

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