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Ukraine summit attracts world leaders but fails to isolate Russia

World leaders will join Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a Ukraine summit this weekend to explore ways of ending the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, but Russia isn’t invited and the event will fall short of Kyiv’s aim of isolating Moscow.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan are among those set to attend the June 15-16 meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.

India, which has helped Moscow survive the shock of economic sanctions, is expected to send a delegation. Turkey and Hungary, which similarly maintain cordial ties with Russia, will be represented by their foreign ministers.

But despite months of intense Ukrainian lobbying, some others will not be there, most notably China, a key consumer of Russian oil and supplier of goods that help Moscow maintain its manufacturing base.

“This meeting is already a result,” Zelenskiy said in Berlin on Tuesday, while also acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.

“Uniting countries who are partners and non-partners is a difficult mission in itself for Ukraine, when the war is not in its first month,” Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the summit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman but it was not immediately clear whether the kingdom would send a representative.

Ulrich Schmid, a political scientist and Eastern Europe expert at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, called the summit “a mixed bag”, given the show of support from some quarters and China’s absence.

“Then the question arises: is peace actually doable?” Schmid added. “As long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is in power… it will be difficult.”

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