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Peace talks without Russia ‘laughable’ – John Mearsheimer

Vladimir Zelensky’s Swiss ‘peace conference’ will achieve nothing without Moscow’s involvement, the professor argued

Vladimir Zelensky’s so-called ‘peace conference’ in Switzerland is “not serious” – only face-to-face talks between Moscow and Kiev will settle the Ukraine conflict, American political scientist John Mearsheimer has said.

The Ukrainian leader’s summit is scheduled to take place on June 15-16 at the Burgenstock Resort near Lucerne. Russia has not been invited to the conference, China has declined to attend, and US President Joe Biden is reportedly skipping the event to attend a fundraising gala in Hollywood.

“This is not serious,” Mearsheimer told American podcast host Daniel Davis this week. “If you’re going to have a meaningful set of peace negotiations where you’re going to try and settle this war, it’s going to have to involve the Ukrainians directly negotiating with the Russians.”

Since the conflict began in 2022, Mearsheimer noted that only two peace initiatives have made “substantial progress” – Turkish-brokered talks in Istanbul that March, and separate back-channel negotiations mediated by then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

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Under preliminary terms agreed in Istanbul, Ukraine would have become a neutral state with a restricted military in exchange for international security guarantees. However, then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson convinced Kiev to withdraw from the talks, according to multiple media reports and an admission by David Arakhamia, who headed the Ukrainian delegation.

Bennett has also claimed that any chance at peace in 2022 was torpedoed by the US and its allies, which ordered Ukraine to “keep striking [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” and “blocked” the Istanbul agreement.

Zelensky will likely use this month’s conference to promote his proposed roadmap for ending the conflict with Russia. The ten-point document demands a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories Ukraine considers its own, for Moscow to pay reparations, and for Russian officials to present themselves to war crimes tribunals.

Russia has dismissed the plan as “detached from reality.” Speaking to journalists last month, President Vladimir Putin stated that while Moscow is ready for serious talks, Kiev plans to “gather as many nations as possible, convince everyone that the best proposal is the terms of the Ukrainian side, and then send it to us in the form of an ultimatum.”

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“This conference is completely without prospects… because getting together and seriously discussing the Ukraine conflict without [Russia’s] participation is absurd,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RT on Tuesday.

“The Ukrainians and the Russians have to be face to face talking about what will be an acceptable deal to both sides,” Mearsheimer told Davis. “The idea that you can have peace negotiations in Switzerland without the Russians is laughable.”

A professor of political science at the University of Chicago, Mearsheimer has drawn intense criticism in the West for arguing that NATO’s post-Cold War expansion was the primary cause of the Ukraine conflict. Mearsheimer has argued since 2014 that “encouraging the Ukrainians to play tough with the Russians” would end in their country getting “wrecked.”

June 01, 2024 at 09:38PM

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