Western Allies Met Secretly With Ukraine On Peace Plan, Attempt To Woo Global South

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jan 09, 2024 - 04:40 PM

Despite the continued 'steadfast' rhetoric on 'not backing down' to Russian forces which has persisted from Zelensky's office, the consensus among realists has been that Ukraine's only way out at this point is through negotiated settlement. On a public level at least, the White House has continued to back Kiev in rejecting negotiations as the bloodshed continues. 

Yet there has for many months been the suspicion that even the Biden administration sees the proverbial writing on the wall, and is quietly pressing for President Zelensky to engage in negotiations. Kiev has presented its own peace plan to allies, but which Moscow has already long rejected as an impossibility, given it would require that Russian troops simply march back home, handing Crimea and the four annexed territories back to Ukraine. For example, here is Point 6 of Zelensky's ten point peace plan:

To cease the hostilities, Russia must withdraw all its troops and armed formations from the territory of Ukraine, plain and simple. Ukraine’s full control over its state border, recognized internationally, needs to be restored.

Without this, no long-lasting peace can be achieved. Each day Russian soldiers remain on Ukrainian land, Ukrainians have to fight and die to protect their homes and to shield the world from the long-lasting consequences of this aggression. 

Obviously, President Putin won't negotiate for the demise or 'loss' of his whole two-year long operation, especially when by all accounts Russia has the upper-hand, also as Kiev struggles for lack of manpower and steady ammo supplies. Tragically, there have likely been hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and possibly just as many severely wounded from the war.

On Tuesday Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the Kremlin assessment that Ukraine has lost over 200,000  of its troops in 2023. "Groupings of Russian troops are methodically reducing the combat potential of the Ukrainian armed forces. Over the past year, enemy losses exceeded 215,000 servicepeople and 28,000 weapons systems. We maintain the strategic initiative along the entire line of combat contact," Shoigu told a meeting of military leaders. Of course, there's no way to verify this figure, and both sides have kept military losses a tightly guarded secret. Zelensky too has recently said the other side has suffered "heavy losses".

At this point, even Ukraine's most ardent supporters acknowledge a hopelessly stalemated situation along the front lines. The war is now spiraling into senseless cross-border aerial attacks where civilians on either side bear the brunt of suffering.

It appears Washington is ramping up diplomatic efforts toward kick-starting a negotiation process on a track that's favorable to Ukraine. But persuading Moscow will be a different story, also as it has the backing or at least tacit support (or 'neutral' silence from) large economies like China and India. Bloomberg on Tuesday has reported on a secret meeting recently held in Saudi Arabia:

A secret meeting took place last month between Ukraine, its Group of Seven allies and a small group of Global South countries to try to rally support for Kyiv’s conditions for holding peace talks with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

The previously undisclosed Dec. 16 meeting of national security advisers was held in Saudi Arabia and followed larger, publicized gatherings aimed at countering Moscow’s attempts to divide and paint Ukraine and its allies as unwilling to negotiate an end to the war.

It remains that many of these Global South countries have been key in helping Russia navigate and endure past the US-EU sanctions storm targeting Moscow.

Bloomberg says that the secrecy aspect was to make other countries feel more comfortable to speak and act freely without having to worry about potential blowback or repercussions from Moscow. Of course, Russia wasn't invited, and crucially China didn't go. Among major participants included senior representatives from Turkey, Indian, and Saudi Arabia - yet notably absent were Brazil (which apparently submitted a written statement), China, and the UAE, according to sources cited in the report.

"There was no major progress at the latest meeting, held in Riyadh, according to people familiar with the session who asked for anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public," Bloomberg writes. "Ukraine and its G-7 allies continued to resist calls from the Global South nations to engage directly with Russia, they said."

China is seen as key to getting Russia to make significant compromise, yet both Xi and Putin know that Russian military success in Ukraine means Kiev has no cards to play. Ultimately, without China being on board with such initiatives to woo Global South countries to take a firmer anti-Russian line, there's little that will come out of it.

Still, it seems each side is at least inching toward future talks. "Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told an event in the US that Russia has showed enthusiasm to have peace talks with Ukraine, when Chinese officials talked with them," according to the latest from Bloomberg.