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Ukraine War Peace Talks In Saudi Arabia: Unfolding The Potential Implications
Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma
2023-08-21
Region : Ukraine,
Issue : Military Issues, Security,
On August 6, the heads of state from Russia’s BRICS partners convened with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Jeddah. During this meeting, a consensus was reached among these states that the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity should be the central focus of any prospective peace agreement aimed at resolving the ongoing war with Russia.
The purpose of this two-day gathering for these states was to contribute to Ukraine’s diplomatic endeavors by expanding its support base beyond its primary Western allies and establishing connections with nations in the Global South. These states have shown reluctance to align themselves with either side of the war. Representatives from over 40 nations, including the United States, China, and India, convened in Saudi Arabia to engage in discussions to seek a peaceful settlement to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Notably, Russia did not receive an invitation to participate in these talks. It is worth noting that this crisis has had far-reaching economic consequences on a worldwide scale.
Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in the pursuit of maintaining a delicate equilibrium in its relationships with other powers and interests within an evolving multipolar global framework. Saudi Arabia is broadening its alliances and mitigating the perception of excessive reliance or alignment with any one faction by actively interacting with Ukraine and other nations participating in the peace process. Saudi Arabia is actively endeavoring to assuage Russia’s concerns by affirming its impartiality and demonstrating respect for Russia’s interests in the area, even if it did not extend an invitation to participate in the discussions.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia has conveyed its support for the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty through the reinstatement of United Nations principles and compliance with international law. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has provided support and humanitarian aid to those who are suffering from the conflict.
Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has endeavored to assume a more prominent position in the region. Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in the pursuit of mediating both regional and international issues. In recent years, the kingdom has forged a deeper relationship with Russia, therefore broadening its diplomatic connections beyond its longstanding association with the United States.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia has attempted to strengthen its links with other influential global powers. Saudi Arabia’s hosting of peace negotiations concerning Ukraine has served as a testament to its capacity to convene diverse factions and entities, including some members of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, India, China, and South Africa) who have refrained from adopting a definitive position on the war. Saudi Arabia is also seeking to facilitate a prospective gathering of global leaders that may endorse a comprehensive framework for achieving peace in Ukraine. The necessity of upholding Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, the withdrawal of Russian military forces, and the efficient implementation of the Minsk agreements are just a few of the ten key points included in this framework that Kyiv has proposed.
Ukraine’s pursuit of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in ceasing the conflict and facilitating peace negotiations might be attributed to a variety of potential factors. Ukraine is actively seeking to expand its diplomatic support network beyond its primary Western allies by engaging with nations in the global south, including India, Brazil, and South Africa, all of whom have so far maintained a publicly neutral stance. Ukraine aspires to enhance the efficacy of the peace process by engaging these nations, therefore intensifying the pressure on Russia to actively participate in constructive talks and exhibit a willingness to make concessions. Additionally, this endeavor aims to expand the global agreement about the fundamental principles necessary for achieving a peaceful resolution. Furthermore, Ukraine is seeking reassurance from China on its impartiality and respect for its regional interests, despite the absence of an invitation to participate in the talks.
Russia has shown several responses to the peace negotiations over Ukraine. The Russian government has conveyed its discontent and dissatisfaction with its exclusion from the ongoing discussions. Russia has levied allegations against Ukraine, claiming that it is endeavoring to establish isolation and secure alliances with nations that have refrained from adopting a definitive position on the conflict, including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. Russia has said that the ongoing negotiations are in breach of the Minsk Agreements, which serve as the established framework for addressing the conflict.
Furthermore, Russia has declined to participate in direct communication with Ukraine or its supporters. Russia has expressed its intention to only engage in discussions that include the involvement of the delegates from the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia views these organizations as crucial participants because they receive support from Moscow and have authority over some areas of eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Russia has persistently engaged in substantial reinforcement of its military forces near the Ukrainian border, concurrently organizing many exercises and drills involving its soldiers and weaponry. Russia has further cautioned that it would undertake suitable steps if it perceived any acts or declarations from Ukraine or its partners as threatening. Russia has levied allegations against Ukraine, claiming that it has instigated acts of violence inside the conflict-ridden region.
One notable accomplishment of the negotiations is the successful engagement of China and India, prominent global actors that have so far refrained from adopting a definitive position on the war and have maintained strong diplomatic relations with Russia. China and India have conveyed their support for more dialogues and collaborative arrangements about several aspects associated with the peace process. This has the potential to exert further pressure on Russia to actively participate in constructive conversations and demonstrate a willingness to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Furthermore, it may contribute to the expansion of the global consensus about the fundamental principles necessary for achieving a peaceful settlement.
Another encouraging indication is that the discussions have prioritized the humanitarian and security dimensions of the conflict, including global food security, nuclear safety, environmental security, and the provision of humanitarian assistance. These concerns have implications not just for Ukraine and Russia but also for the international community, potentially fostering shared interests and building trust among the participating parties.
Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge the existence of constraints that have the potential to impede the progress and effectiveness of the negotiations. One notable aspect is Russia’s non-participation in the negotiations. The resolution of the conflict’s fundamental concerns includes the status of Crimea and Donbas. It also urges the withdrawal of soldiers and weapons.
So, the execution of the Minsk Agreement is unlikely to occur without the active participation and assistance of Russia. Another obstacle is the existence of divergences and disputes among the participating nations, particularly on the appropriate approach to address Russia’s aggressive behavior and the implementation of sanctions. Certain nations may exhibit hesitancy in adopting a resolute position or intensifying their efforts to exert pressure on Russia due to concerns about potential reprisals or the potential loss of economic advantages.
In conclusion, the continuing peace negotiations for Ukraine in Saudi Arabia have so far not shown any tangible outcomes. But there have been indications of promise and advancement in their efforts to foster collaboration among various nations and entities, tackle humanitarian and security concerns, and uphold established international norms and values. The negotiations have the potential to lay the groundwork for a prospective gathering of global dignitaries, which may result in the official approval of a comprehensive framework aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine.
About Author:
Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma
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Aishwarya Sanjukta Roy Proma is a Research Associate at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD).
This article originally appeared in Eurasia Review
The views expressed above belong to the author(s)

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