Simon Wohlfahrt Agence France-Presse Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (center) after his first visit to NATO headquarters since the invasion Russian from Ukraine, in Brussels, on October 11.
A third session of Ukraine-backed talks to end the Russian invasion begins on Saturday in Malta with representatives from around fifty countries, in the absence of Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes the two-day meeting, which follows similar meetings this summer in Jeddah and Copenhagen, will build support for his 10-point plan to end to the war triggered by the Russian invasion of February 2022.
Diplomatic advisers from around fifty countries as well as international institutions are expected to participate, more than the approximately 40 nations who took part in the summit Saudi in August.
Kiev welcomed the growing list of participants, which includes countries such as Turkey, Brazil and India, as a sign of global support for this process.
“This meeting is a strong signal that unity is preserved around Ukraine,” said the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak.
Mr. Zelensky is pushing his ten-point peace plan, which calls for Russia to withdraw all its troops outside Ukraine's internationally recognized borders.
But Russia – which proclaimed the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia in September 2022 and that of Crimea in 2014 – has rejected any settlement that would involve ceding these territories.
“It is obvious that steps [like the October 28-29 Malta meeting] have absolutely no future, they are just counterproductive,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, calling this meeting a “deeply biased and anti-Russian event, which has nothing to do with a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.”
Participants from around the world
Organizers are hoping for a joint declaration from the Malta summit, after the two previous meetings ended without the adoption of such a document.
Among the participants are the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, supporters of Kiev, as well as Turkey, which has offered itself as mediator between Ukraine and Russia.
These discussions, which notably concern respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, have the particularity of seeing the participation of countries allied to Russia or which have refrained from condemning its attack, such as Brazil, South Africa, and India. China did not confirm its presence even though it had participated in the last meeting.
Representatives from countries as diverse as Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Georgia, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Qatar and Thailand are also expected, some via video link.
The meeting was supposed to take place in a Middle Eastern country but was moved to Malta after the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel, according to a European diplomat.
Speaking to Ukrainian television on Thursday, Mr. Iermak said the meeting was a new step towards preparing for a leaders' summit on peace.
Discussions will focus on five key areas: food security, energy security, security nuclear weapons, humanitarian issues and the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity, he said.
Ukraine is preparing for a trying winter after more than a year and a half of a bloody war and deadly Russian bombings, with Kiev anticipating new massive strikes on its energy infrastructure while its counter-offensive has so far failed to deeply penetrate Russian defenses.