Saudi Arabia hosting Ukraine peace talks Saudi Arabia hosting Ukraine peace talks 

Saudi Arabia hosting Ukraine peace talks

Saudi Arabia is hosting talks on the Ukraine war as it tries to increase its diplomatic footprint, although expectations are mild for what the gathering might achieve. Yet Ukraine's president views gathering dozens of nations as crucial to reaching peace in his country and elsewhere.

By Stefan J. Bos

Saudi Arabia says its meeting of national security advisers and other officials underscores its "readiness" to contribute to reaching a "solution that will result in permanent peace" in Ukraine.

Invitations were sent to around 30 countries,  but Russia, which invaded Ukraine last year, was not among them, according to diplomats familiar with the event.

The two-day gathering in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, which began Saturday, was welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He said he hoped the summit would help end what he called Russian aggression. "Many countries will be represented. Different countries, including countries of the global south," he noted, referring to developing nations.

"It is very important because in many matters, such as food security, the fate of millions of people in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world would directly depend on how fast the world will be in implementing the peace formula," he added.

"I am grateful to Saudi Arabia for this platform for negotiations. We are moving step by step towards the global peace summit. It is very important that the world sees a fair and honest end to Russian aggression that will benefit everyone in the world. Everyone," the president stressed in televised remarks.            

President Zelensky's peace formula includes food security, protecting and ensuring Ukraine's grain exports to the world's poorest nations. He also wants energy security, focusing on price restrictions on Russian energy resources and aiding Ukraine with restoring its power infrastructure, which Russian attacks have damaged.

Among other proposals is releasing all prisoners and deportees, including war prisoners and children deported to Russia.

Radiation and nuclear safety, focusing on restoring safety around Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, is another issue. Russian forces had occupied the plan.

Yet he has also warned that the "War is "gradually returning to Russia's territory" as Russia blames Ukraine for drone attacks on Moscow and beyond.

In one of the latest incidents, Moscow said a Russian tanker with 11 crew members was hit in a Ukrainian attack in the Black Sea, although no one was injured. Earlier on Friday, Ukraine's navy and leading internal security service, the SBU, used sea drones to attack a Russian naval base near the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, damaging a sizeable Russian warship.

It was unclear whether these incidents would be discussed during the peace summit. China, which says it is a neutral party in the conflict but has been criticized by Western countries for refusing to condemn Russia, said it would send its special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui.

Besides China, India and South Africa have also confirmed their attendance.

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05 August 2023, 16:52