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VP Harris, world leaders declare for support for Ukraine

More than 100 countries and delegations convened to support peace in Ukraine.
Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 12:01 PM, Jun 16, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris reaffirmed the United States' support for Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought to rally global support for a path to peace during a summit held in Switzerland Saturday.

More than 100 countries and delegations convened at a rural mountaintop resort overlooking a lake outside of Lucerne for the discussions.

“This is a tremendous success, our success, the common success of all those who believe a united world, united nations are stronger than any aggressor,” Zelenskyy declared to leaders.

Zelenskyy lauded the number of participants, noting delegations from across regions, an important signal regional experts pointed to for the meeting.

“We have managed to avoid one of the most terrible things, namely the division of the world into opposing blocs,” he said.

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington

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While leaders put a stake in the message sent by the scope of attendance, the summit did not aim to serve as a negotiation but as a forum for a foundation for potential ones in the future.

“It is a critical step in a process that can ultimately lead to negotiations,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

However, the absence of Russia loomed over the summit, as some foreign leaders nodded to it, underscoring varying views among some countries.

Particularly leaders of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who pointed to a need for Russia’s eventual participation.

“We are all aware that a peace process without Russia is inconceivable. A lasting solution must involve both parties. As an international community, we can help to pave the way that is why we are here,” said Swiss President Viola Amherd.

Ahead of the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Ukraine abandon its NATO aspirations and concede territory Russia has occupied as it continues its war in Ukraine.

“There is no Russia here. Why? Because if Russia was interested in peace, there would be no war. We must decide together what a just peace means for the world and how it can be achieved in a truly lasting way,” Zelenskyy said. “The U.N. charter is a basis for us. Then when an action plan is on the table, agreed by all, and transparent for the peoples, then it will be communicated to the representatives of Russia.”

Ukraine’s vision for peace is one that the U.S. has stood by, as Harris continued to underscore defending the world order and the strategic interest in supporting Ukraine following Zelenskyy’s meetings with President Joe Biden in France and Italy over the last month.

“By contrast, however, yesterday Putin put forward a proposal. But we must speak truth. He is not calling for negotiations. He is calling for a surrender,” Harris said. “America stands with Ukraine not out of charity but because it is in our strategic interest.”

Harris and Zelenskyy also met during the summit, where Harris announced more funding to support energy and humanitarian needs for Ukraine, on the heels of the U.S. and allies agreeing to tap into the proceeds from frozen Russian assets to aid Ukraine and the signing of a 10-year bilateral security agreement between the countries.

“We can already say that our actions have started to implement it and these are truly historic steps that strengthen the security of Ukraine and therefore all of Europe, therefore America,” Zelenskyy told Harris.

Day two of the summit was tailored to food security, nuclear safety and human issues, including the return of abducted children by Russia, marking three of the broad-reaching points in Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan.

The issue of returning children is one where “the sense of urgency about moving this forward is real,” according to Sullivan, who pointed to Qatar’s role in mediating the return of more than 30 Ukrainian children. Sullivan noted the effort would take countries like Qatar to work with, as well as international pressure, including from “unusual voices” as well.

“And then from that, begin to find a way to get a drumbeat of public exposure and awareness built around this. And then, as I said before, try to actually initiate another dialogue along the lines of the one that Qatar had between you know essentially in an indirect fashion, between Russia and Ukraine,” Sullivan said.