Zelenskyy’s top diplomatic adviser stressed that the Kiev peace plan is the only way to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the time for mediation efforts is over. In recent months, he has rejected peace initiatives from China, Brazil, the Vatican and South Africa.
“There can’t be a Brazilian peace plan, a Chinese peace plan, a South African peace plan when you’re talking about a war in Ukraine,” Zhovkva said.
This month, Zelenskyy made a serious attempt to reach out to the Global South, which includes states in Latin America, Africa and much of Asia, in response to peaceful moves by some of those countries. Zelenskyy attended the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19, where he held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Iraq and other delegations.
On the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Zelenskyy met with the leaders of India and Indonesia, important representatives of the global South.
While Kyiv enjoys strong Western support in its fight against the Kremlin, it has not received the same support from the Global South, where Russia has invested its diplomatic energy for many years.
Moscow strengthened its ties with regional powers during the war in Ukraine, including by selling energy to India and China.
In response to the Western embargo on Russian oil imports, Russia is using sea routes to redirect supplies from traditional European markets to Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to Nairobi hoping to strike a trade deal with Kenya and visited African countries several times during the war in Ukraine. The Russia-Africa summit is to take place this summer in Saint Petersburg.
In a sign that Ukraine is trying to challenge Russia’s diplomatic influence, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba began his second African tour last week.
Igor Zhovkva also said winning support from the Global South is now a priority for Ukraine. He stressed that despite his country’s desire at the start of the war to strengthen, above all, ties with Western partners, ensuring peace is a matter of concern to all countries.
He downplayed Pope Francis’ calls for dialogue with Russia, which called Ukraine’s occupied territories a “political problem”.
“In this time of open war, we don’t need intermediaries. Too late for mediation,” Zhovkva explained.
He also said the reaction to Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan at the G7 summit was overwhelmingly positive.
“Not a single formula has caused concern among the G7 countries,” Zhovkva said.
Kiev would like G7 leaders to help bring together as many southern leaders as possible for the “peace summit” that Kiev has proposed this summer, he said, adding that the venue is still under discussion.
Russia says it is open to peace talks with Kiev, but argues that any talks should be based on “new realities”, i.e. recognition of Russia’s annexation of five Ukrainian regions that the Russia controls in whole or in part. This condition is acceptable neither to Ukraine nor to its Western allies.
China, the world’s second-largest economy and Ukraine’s main trading partner before the war, has proposed a 12-point peace concept that calls for a ceasefire but does not condemn the invasion or oblige Russia to withdraw troops from occupied territories.
Maintaining close ties with Russian leaders, Beijing sent envoy Li Hui to Kyiv and Moscow this month to promote Chinese peace proposals.
Zhovkva said the Chinese envoy was briefed in detail about the situation on the battlefield, at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the attacks on the Ukrainian energy system and the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, which is a Russian war crime.
“He listened very carefully. There was no immediate response… We’ll see. China is a wise country that understands its role in international affairs,” Zhovkva said.
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