The August 5–6 negotiations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have bridged the gaps between the positions of Ukraine and at least 40 countries of the West and Global South as to the end of the war.
The Ukrainian delegation in Jeddah promoted the Peace Formula proposed by Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This time, the meeting was attended by twice as many countries as similar consultations in Copenhagen on June 27. The Ukrainian leadership considers this conference to be a positive signal, as do political analysts interviewed by about the results of the talks for Ukraine.
What was agreed upon in Saudi Arabia?
- The participants agreed that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be the principal requisites for attaining peace (importantly, India, South Africa, and China represented at the talks previously refrained from voting for similar resolutions in the UN).
- It was agreed to hold another meeting in a similar format, which also won’t be attended by Russia.
- The conference managed to involve twice as many countries as the previous one held in Copenhagen in June. One new participant was the People's Republic of China.
- The PRC once again floated its "peace plan". However, European representatives didn’t enforce a ceasefire that wouldn't be accompanied by the withdrawal of the occupation forces.
- Ukraine didn’t insist on full acceptance of the Peace Formula or the full withdrawal of Russian troops. Other countries also didn’t press for Ukraine to give up these demands.
- Nuclear security, environmental security, and food security will be discussed in working groups.
In Jeddah, the parties came closer to broad negotiations
"It's a mistake to call it a summit. A summit is a meeting of the highest-level officials (presidents or prime ministers), while this was a conference involving national security advisers. By the way, Ukraine’s ambition is to organize a global peace summit, that is, a top-level meeting," Volodymyr Fesenko, Chairman of the Board of the Penta Center of Applied Political Studies, explains.
Such meetings are important to harmonize Ukraine’s position with those of other countries and to try and begin with "small things" like the Grain Deal, the security of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, and the deterrence of Russia’s nuclear threats to eventually approach the greatest issue, that is, the end of the war.
"There’s little information available, but diplomacy loves silence. Actually, no global documents were meant to be signed during this meeting. The diplomats themselves often don’t know what the final results will be. However, there was an important exchange of opinions with countries of the Global South," says Oleksii Haran, Research Director at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and professor of political science at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
According to Fesenko, while the first such meeting in Copenhagen dedicated to the Peace Formula involved talks in the form of a dialog, the parties in Jeddah came closer to broad negotiations.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy reads out the Peace Formula (2:08)
Many countries are concerned about the Grain Deal and nuclear security
"The main result is the continuation of negotiations based on the Peace Formula by President Zelenskyy. The press reported that working groups had been created for each of the ten points of the formula. It is about negotiations in the form of a dialog between the countries of the West and Ukraine on one side and the countries of the Global South on the other side. However, our position and the position of the Global South on some points differ significantly. Therefore, we need to look for common ground," Fesenko says of the main achievements of the conference.
According to Oleksii Haran, one important position of the Ukrainian delegation is that not all countries should necessarily endorse all the points of the Peace Formula. According to him, it’s quite possible that every country will find its own point to start with. For most of the countries, it will certainly be the Grain Deal and nuclear security.
"The most difficult will certainly be to agree on the conditions to end the war. The countries that attended the Saudi Arabia conference support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. However, they don’t want to demand that Russia pull out of our territory. There won’t be quick progress here, if any," Volodymyr Fesenko summarizes.
How the Global South changed its attitude towards the war
"The participation of India and South Africa is of great importance. China's attendance, I believe, is a pleasant surprise, as I didn’t even expect it. It means that these countries are already demonstrating the need to end the war and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. This is already a step ahead. But will they press for Russia to abide by the Grain Deal, stop the ecocide, and ensure nuclear security? Maybe. This happens little by little—for example, South Africa’s rhetoric has changed," Oleksii Haran notes.
He believes that the Jeddah meeting shows one more highly important thing: Russia is gradually becoming isolated, especially diplomatically. However, the political analyst warns that China is likely to try and have it both ways at these negotiations, as it does.
"China will try to play both ends against the middle. It will continue to say that the war was caused by NATO expanding eastward. However, it’s important for us that China took part in talks together with the countries it condemns, that is, NATO countries," says the Research Director at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
Both experts also say that the next such meeting may be held in September as part of the G20 summit in India or during the meeting of the UN General Assembly. Similar reports are circulating in the Western mass media. But political analysts emphasize that Ukrainian diplomacy will have to work hard to bring such negotiations to the highest level, and it’s still not certain to succeed.
According to Volodymyr Fesenko, the idea of organizing a meeting at the highest level does not cause rejection by potential participants, so the Ukrainian leadership hopes to hold such an event as soon as possible, preferably by the end of 2023. The political analyst claims that this can become the basis of a real peace coalition, but we should definitely not expect quick results here.