G7 leaders will discuss a proposal for a Ukraine peace summit during their three-day meeting in Hiroshima this week, in an effort to promote Kyiv’s proposal for ending Russia’s war against the country rather than rival plans proposed by China.
The G7 talks on the proposed event, which has been championed by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and is not expected to include Russia, come as Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s special envoy visits Kyiv touting Beijing’s “political settlement” to end the almost 15-month long conflict.
Zelenskyy’s 10-point plan to end the conflict includes a demand for Moscow to withdraw all its troops and for Ukraine’s full territorial integrity to be restored. China’s version does not call for Russia’s full withdrawal before peace negotiations are opened.
Western leaders have stressed that peace talks should only take place when Kyiv is willing to do so, and that success on the battlefield was the best way for Ukraine to achieve a “just peace.”
But Kyiv’s western allies are increasingly worried about whether US military support for Ukraine is peaking, and could decline ahead of next year’s US election.
An EU official said the G7 leaders, who begin their three-day summit in the Japanese port city on Friday, would use the talks to discuss the idea of holding a conference this summer dedicated to Zelenskyy’s plan.
Zelenskyy’s spokesperson confirmed that the G7 talks would take place at the request of Kyiv, with the aim of getting as many countries as possible on board with its peace proposal.
Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said Kyiv was interested “in China being involved in the implementation of the Ukrainian peace formula”.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Thursday said Kyiv had reaffirmed to Beijing that it would not any accept peace agreement with Russia that involved a loss of Ukrainian territory.
Zelenskyy is expected to address the G7 leaders by video conference.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the lack of progress in peace talks but has so far shown no indication that he will accept anything other than a full capitulation from Kyiv.
The Kremlin has backed China’s peace plan and is also welcoming an initiative from Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, who has come under pressure after the US accused his country of supplying Russia with weapons.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that several African states would lead a peace delegation to Moscow after Putin spoke to Ramaphosa last week.
“Mr Ramaphosa said that Africa, as the largest continent, also deems it necessary to raise its voice in international efforts towards settling the known situation in Ukraine,” Peskov said, according to Interfax.
“Russia is ready to hear out any proposals that can settle the situation in Ukraine with great interest,” he added.
News of the G7 intervention to bolster support for Zelenskyy’s peace plan came as Ukraine claimed its air defences had downed all but one of the Russian cruise missiles fired in the latest overnight strikes that sparked explosions in Kyiv and other regions.
“A total of 30 sea, air, and land-based cruise missiles were launched” and 29 were destroyed, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said in a statement on Thursday.
The tally added to Kyiv’s claims of downing six Russian ballistic missiles in a strike on Tuesday.
Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said it was the ninth strike on the capital since the beginning of the month.