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Global South takes center stage at Ukraine’s peace summit in Malta

The recent Malta summit made headway in gathering support for Ukraine’s Peace Formula, with the participation of 66 nations. This was the third advisor-level peace summit, aimed at expanding the coalition of states that support Ukraine.
Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andrii Yermak during the third meeting of national security and foreign policy advisors in Malta on 29 October, 2023. Source: The Presidential Office
Global South takes center stage at Ukraine’s peace summit in Malta

In Malta, representatives from 66 countries gathered on 28-29 October to discuss President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula, marking a pivotal moment for the Global South in shaping international peace efforts.

Aligning positions for peace

The summit in Malta was the third round of the Ukrainian-backed talks which gathered national security advisors and foreign policy advisors from 66 countries and international organizations to consider President Zelenskyy’s 10-point Peace Formula plan to end the Russo-Ukrainian war. 

This year similar meetings were held earlier in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Copenhagen, Denmark. As the Malta summit, they did not imply the signing of a final document.

The main purpose of the recent meeting in Malta was to expand the coalition of states that support Ukraine and share the same principles on nuclear and food security and justice for victims of Russian aggression, explained political scientist Hanna Shelest. 

The expert said the summit “is about aligning positions with the international community” which will further push them during negotiations with Russia.

According to the expert of the “United Ukraine” analytical center, Oleksii Kush, the recent meetings in Denmark and Saudi Arabia primarily focused on engaging countries of the Global South to stand against Russian aggression on Ukraine. 

Saudi Arabia was among six countries Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates which were invited to join Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in the BRICS grouping as full members from 1 January, 2024, as per Comments.ua.

Therefore, it’s crucial for Ukraine to secure the support of Asian, African, and Latin American countries, “especially now, when the war in the Middle East is forming a dividing line between the ‘collective’ West and the Global South,” Kush said. 

“In these new conditions, Ukraine needs to preserve the achievements that have already been made,” the expert concluded.

Malta has been chosen as a neutral ground not associated with either the West or the Global South, according to Kush. In his opinion, if the summit in Malta is successful, the country could become the site for further Ukraine’s work with Global South countries in advancing its peace plan.

On 11 October 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Ukraine’s peace plan agreed by members of the G7 to help put an end to the Russo-Ukrainian war. The plan includes the following points:

  • Radiation and nuclear safety, based on restoring the safety at Europe’s largest Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that is now occupied by Russia
  • Food security, which includes the protection and ensuring Ukraine’s grain exports
  • Energy security, focusing on ensuring the safety of Ukraine’s power infrastructure and aiding Ukraine with restoring it after Russian attacks inflicted significant damage on the country’s energy facilities
  • Release of all prisoners and deported persons, including POWs and children deported to Russia
  • Restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity
  • Withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia
  • Justice, including the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes
  • Prevention of ecocide, focusing on demining and restoring water treatment facilities
  • Prevention of conflict escalation, and creating of a security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space, including guarantees for Ukraine
  • Confirmation of the war’s end, including a document signed by the involved parties

Behind the scenes

While Russia’s representatives didn’t attend any of the three summits, the Malta summit gathered significantly more representatives of the Global South countries compared with the two previous meetings in Jeddah and Copenhagen. 

China also did not participate in the Malta summit, according to Interfax. Ahead of the meeting, Bejing had warned Ukraine that its delegation would miss the event due to schedule constraints, the Deputy Head of the President’s Office Igor Zhovkva announced. 

In June, Chinese representatives had been absent at the Copenhagen meeting on Ukraine’s Peace Formula. However, in August, Beijing sent its Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui to the summit in Jeddah. 

Beijing would continue its efforts to contribute to peaceful negotiations and would work towards a political solution to solve the “Ukrainian crisis,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Wang Wenbin before the Malta peace summit, UkrInform reported. 

Dmitro Levus, an expert from the “United Ukraine” analytical center, said China’s decision to miss the Malta summit indicated that Beijing “indeed aligns itself with Russia, although there is nothing new in this,” as per Ukrainian Radio. Nevertheless, it did not hinder Ukraine from engaging in negotiations with countries of the Global South.

“Many in Ukraine argued that it is impossible to hold talks with the Global South without China, but we see that it is possible. It happened,” emphasized the expert.

The participants of the Malta summit discussed the prospects of holding the Global Peace Summit and the parties agreed to take the necessary steps to prepare for the event.

In addition, the representatives of 66 countries held talks on the key principles on which a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace for Ukraine should be reached and built, the joint statement of the co-chairs of the Ukrainian summit said. 

“Achieving such a peace for Ukraine would be a significant contribution to strengthening international peace and security. Peace must be based on the principles of the UN Charter, respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and international law,” the statement reads. 

According to expert Dmitry Levus, support for the Ukrainian Peace Formula has grown since the initial meeting in Copenhagen. The balanced representation of countries from the Global South and the West among the 66 participants has indicated the success of Ukraine’s strategy in promoting its peace plan.

“Secondly, it unequivocally signifies global interest in the Ukrainian Peace Formula—how it is presented and formulated,” highlighted the expert.

Levis emphasized that the plan “goes beyond halting the ongoing war in Ukraine,” aspiring to restore order and safety around the world. 

However, the absence of Chinese representatives can be regarded as a notable drawback of the Malta summit, underscoring the Ukrainian Peace Formula’s potential impact on non-Western countries.

“The Ukrainian Peace Formula is likely about reforming the entire global order, so it is not confined to the Western world alone. This is why representatives from other countries, especially non-Western ones should be present during the discussion of specific points of the Peace Formula,” a Ukrainian political scientist, Oleksii Yakubin, emphasized, according to Korrespondent media outlet. 

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