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The backstory: Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and there’s no clear end to the war in sight. There have been huge losses on both sides, and global supply chains, energy structures and food security have been thrown for a loop as a result. At the moment, Ukraine is building on its own counteroffensive, but Russia hasn’t given up much occupied land in the territory.
For help, Ukraine is trying to boost the support it’s been getting from Western allies, like NATO members, but it also wants to expand on that by appealing to other countries that have stayed neutral so far. But Russia is also trying to appeal to those neutral countries on its side. There was a round of peace talks in Copenhagen in June, but no major progress toward a peaceful resolution to the war has been made yet.
More recently: Countries in the Middle East are in a unique position on the war. Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE (and formerly Qatar) are all members of OPEC, which has collaborated with Russia a lot over the past few years when it comes to global oil production, pricing and cuts. So that makes it challenging for them to openly condemn Russia’s invasion. But while Iran has been supplying Russia with drones, other Middle Eastern states have chosen stay out of it.
On another note, Saudi Arabia, under ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has been trying to build a name for itself in international diplomacy. Last year, Saudi Arabia (and Turkey) helped organize a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia. MBS has also said he’s ready to help mediate between both sides in the war. Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it and Ukraine would be holding a round of peace talks at the beginning of August in Jeddah and welcomed many countries to get involved.
The development: The Ukraine peace talks just ended, with over 40 countries represented, including those with ties to both Ukraine and Russia. Attendees included China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia said it would be “monitoring” the talks, but it didn’t attend.
During the talks, Ukraine and its allies pitched a peace plan, putting together the parts needed to pull off President Zelenskiy’s earlier 10-part peace formula. Both food and nuclear security were a part of this strategy. But it doesn’t look like any solid steps were made toward actually securing peace. China’s reps called for a ceasefire so that peace could be brokered ASAP, but France disagreed, saying that this idea would enable Russia to stay in its newly occupied lands. After this event, though, we could be seeing more peace talks, with China expressing support already for a third round of talks.
"We have many disagreements, and we have heard different positions, but it is important that our principles are shared," Chinese Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui said about the conference.
“We have had very productive consultations about key principles on which just and strong peace has to be built,” Ukraine President Zelenskiy’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said in comments posted on the presidential office website. “There were different points of view, but all the attendees declared allegiance to UN principles, international law and respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“This is not only a conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” Celso Amorim, international affairs adviser to Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said in a virtual speech during the talks. “This is also a chapter in the longstanding rivalry between Russia and the West.”