I tempi sono maturi per la pace in Ucraina? Pусский
Не пора ли сесть в Украине за стол переговоров?
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Last month Geneva-based thinktank Inclusive Peace published a reportExternal link that offers a possible path on how to negotiate peace in Ukraine. It is based on current and historical research, and what the track towards negotiations could look like.
The report comes as the war drags on to its 19th month and has reached a near stalemate on the battlefield. On the ground -- and further afield -- casualties are mounting amid a global cost-of-living crisis due to disrupted food and energy markets. But while peace negotiations may not represent an option for some, others say signs are emerging that their time may soon be ripe.
In August an interview in the NZZ am SonntagExternal link cited Thomas Greminger, the Swiss head of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), saying that Switzerland could encourage dialogue between Russia and Ukraine without necessarily acting as an official mediator and play a role in hosting any talks. He also said Western nations needed to consider other plans than indefinitely supplying Kyiv with military support that would include Russia. Such a plan would include a ceasefire, followed by discussions on territorial claims, the ultimate political conundrum for both parties.
Pierre-Alain Eltschinger, a Swiss foreign ministry spokesperson, wrote in an email to SWI swissinfo.ch that any mediation“depends on the conflict parties agreeing on a third mediating party”.
The Centre of Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) in Geneva, as well as the GCSP, have both been involved in private diplomacy , such as ahead of the grain deal which allowed for food and fertilisers to leave Ukrainian ports; they have kept channels of contact open with the two warring parties, in order to set the stage for any talks. Opinion Goodbye (Swiss) neutrality?
This content was published on Aug 13, 2022 Aug 13, 2022
Analyst Daniel Warner looks at whether Russia's refusal to have Switzerland act as go-between with Ukraine marks the end of an era.
While Turkey gained international clout from the role that it played in the grain deal, other countries in the Global South have also engaged as intermediaries between Russia and Ukraine. In June an African peace mission led by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa that included representatives from seven other regional countries headed to Moscow and Kyiv.
During a press conference in June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the visiting dignitaries that he would not negotiate as long as Russia continued to occupy Ukraine. Senegal's president Macky Sall responded by saying“We do understand, Mr. Zelensky, your position because your country is occupied, and for you, military action is a way out of the situation. But we are thinking that when you're fighting, you still probably need to have a place for a dialogue.”
Zelenskyy and Lula met at the UN General Assembly to discuss peace Keystone / Ricardo Stuckert / Brazil Presid
At the UN general assembly on Wednesday Zelenskyy pushed once again for his peace plan and met with Brazilian president Luiz Ignacio Lula to discuss a way out of the war.
Brazil, China, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have also expressed an interest to mediate talks.
Paffenholz describes the various types of signals we should be watching out for for negotiations to become a reality.
Read more more on Ukraine, peace talks and Switzerland
Alexei Venediktov, the former editor-in-chief of Echo says European sanctions, which Switzerland also adopted, are counterproductive and that "Switzerland has lost its opportunity to mediate for peace in Ukraine".
Our Explainer: Could Switzerland seize Russia's foreign reserves for Ukraine reconstruction?
Switzerland supports creation of special tribunal on UkraineExternal link
Our analysis: China's Ukraine peace talks gambit shows shifts amid hard realities End of insertion
SWI swissinfo.ch: Do you see any opportunities for a break in the fighting to allow any peace talks to begin?
Thania Paffenholz : Some experts say certain criteria are required for what they call ripeness for resolution. The most important is achieving a military stalemate on the battlefield. That is pretty much what we are seeing now. Military experts have predicted that the stalemate may last much longer than even this year, and may go way into next year. Another issue is fatigue in public attention and public support.
Last year it was impossible to even talk about the likelihood of negotiations. The situation was so polarised, and anything other than a military solution was inconceivable. That has changed, with a number of initiatives, such as when Turkey began focusing on the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Sometimes things begin with something tangible like that before something more may come from it.
A number of discussions regarding mediating negotiations have also been made more recently by the Global South, by Brazil, South Africa, China, and by a delegation of African leaders. The Global South became suddenly involved due to their concerns over the rising cost of living.
Another development that we are seeing is that President Zelensky is lobbying for his peace plan. Conversations began in DenmarkExternal link , then went on in RiyadhExternal link , Saudi Arabia, with the next round of conversations regarding the plan expected in autumn, to be hosted in Europe. These conversations may not get much media coverage, but they are proceeding.
SWI: You mentioned the issue of waning public interest in the war in Ukraine. With campaigning for the US presidential elections getting started, some politicians have said that they would not be interested in supporting Ukraine. Could this present a threat or an opportunity for peace negotiations?
T.P: The American presidential elections are certainly a key factor. If you talk about negotiations, you are clearly in the Republican camp. But some Democrats are also having thoughts and developing ideas about potential negotiations. It is difficult to address this because in Congress or for other decision makers the issue has become so politically polarised.
Imagine that the Republicans win the elections, and then they announce a plan to stop supplying arms to Ukraine. With the United States being the country's biggest weapons supplier, if the arms supplies stop, there will be moves. Often it is not so much the realities that determine what happens, but the perceptions. Already now, the perception is that if the Republicans win, there will be a massive shift of Western support that will definitely affect NATO's planning for military support. The closer we get to election campaigning, the more we may hear discussions about negotiations emerging alongside military engagement.