© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a press conference during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel//File Photo
(Reuters) -A senior Ukrainian official said on Sunday that talks in Saudi Arabia to make headway towards a peaceful settlement of the war with Russia had been productive, but Moscow called the meeting a doomed attempt to swing the Global South behind Kyiv.
More than 40 countries, including China, India, the United States, and European countries, but not Russia, took part in the Jeddah talks that ended on Sunday.
Ukraine and its allies called the talks an attempt to secure broad international support for principles that Kyiv wants to be the basis for peace, including the withdrawal of all Russian troops and the return of all Ukrainian territory to its control.
President Volodymir Zelenskiy has said he wants a global summit to take place based on those principles later this year.
Saudi Arabia’s Media Ministry said participants had agreed on the importance of continuing consultations to pave the way for peace. European officials have said participants planned to establish working groups to address specific problems raised by the war.
Eighteen months after Russia invaded Ukraine, any prospect of direct peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow appears remote as fighting rages along the front line.
Speaking about the Jeddah talks, Zelenskiy’s head of staff Andriy Yermak said in a statement: “We had very productive consultations on the key principles on which a just and lasting peace should be built.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by state media on Sunday as saying the meeting was “a reflection of the West’s attempt to continue futile, doomed efforts” to mobilise the Global South behind Zelenskiy’s position.
While Western countries have broadly backed Ukraine, many other states have been reluctant to take sides even though they want an end to a conflict that has hit the global economy.
The participation of China, which stayed away from an earlier round of talks in Copenhagen and has shunned Western calls to condemn Russia’s invasion, signalled a possible shift in its stance but not a major change, analysts said.
Western diplomats have also emphasised Saudi Arabia’s role in convening a wider group of countries to take part, utilising its growing relationship with Beijing and its continued ties with both Moscow and Kyiv.
Yermak said different viewpoints emerged during the talks in Saudi Arabia, calling them “an extremely honest, open conversation”.
He said all the countries present had demonstrated a commitment to the principles of international law and respect for the sovereignty and inviolability of the territorial integrity of states.