How Does Russian Propaganda Mask Russia's Unwillingness to Talk About Just Peace?

April 29, 2024
How do Russian propagandists respond to diplomatic gatherings based on the created peace plan of Ukraine, while trying to conceal Russia's intention to destroy that country?

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed a "peace formula" to the leaders of the G7 on October 11, 2022. This comprehensive 10-point plan is the option to achieve a long-term and equitable peace in the face of Russia's persistent threat. This proposal served as the foundation for a series of international gatherings, the first of which was held in Copenhagen on June 24, 2023.

Representatives from Ukraine, the G7 countries, the EU, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey met to rally international support for a peace process based on Ukraine's 10-point proposal. According to a representative of the European Commission, the group agreed that the peace process should be based on the values of territorial integrity and sovereignty established in the UN Charter.

The second summit was held in Jeddah on August 5-6, 2023, and was attended by delegates from almost 40 countries, including China, India, EU Member States, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Zambia, Egypt, and the United States.

Agreements were reached on the creation of working groups to address the Ukrainian 10-point peace proposal and the formation of a group of ambassadors. The possibility of a meeting at the level of heads of state was "considered likely" for a later date in 2023.

On October 28-29, 2023, Malta hosted the third summit of national security advisers from 65 countries in Europe, South America, the Arab world, Africa, and Asia.

The fourth meeting was held in Davos in mid-January 2024, ahead of the World Economic Forum. Representatives from 83 countries and international organizations attended, including 18 Asians (excluding China) and 12 Africans.

The meeting's co-chair, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, declared that it "clarified the issues to be discussed," pointing out that neither Ukraine nor Russia consented to territorial concessions and that no high-level meeting was planned. Following the meeting, on January 15, Swiss President Viola Amherd announced Switzerland's intention to hold a "possible peace conference."

Upcoming meeting to proceed on discussion

Following negotiations with President Zelensky in January 2024, Swiss authorities began preliminary discussions with representatives from the EU, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia about holding a high-level peace conference. This meeting would "build on" the momentum established by the four national advisers' conferences.

On April 10, 2024, the Swiss Federal Council confirmed that the conference would take place in Bürgenstock in June 2024. The conference's goal is to encourage high-level conversations aimed at securing a comprehensive, just, and long-term peace for Ukraine while adhering to international law and the UN Charter. Furthermore, the conference aims to create tangible ideas for achieving peace in Ukraine.

Ukraine's 10-point peace proposals will be a focal point of discussion during the conference.  As of April 2024, it was anticipated that representatives from 80 to 100 states would receive invitations to the conference. A representative from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized the importance of considering the perspectives of Global South countries, which are expected to play a pivotal role in potentially involving Russia in the peace process.

Russian opposition to Peace talks: Kremlin's stance on worldwide initiative

Obviously, the Kremlin expressed its opposition to the prospect of world leaders convening in Switzerland to discuss the Ukrainian peace formula. For instance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed reporters regarding the situation in Ukraine, asserting that the current stalemate was not instigated by Russia.

Lavrov dismissed the notion of needing a "lining" in the form of the "Zelensky formula" between readiness for negotiations and their commencement. He challenged those advocating for a departure from this approach to come forward, emphasizing that the initiative did not originate from Russia. In response to President Zelensky's suggestion that peace negotiations could commence before Ukraine returns to its 1991 borders, Lavrov characterized such remarks as "pathetic" and remarked that "dreaming is not harmful."

In addition, Vladimir Khokhlov, the Press Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Bern, confirmed that Switzerland hadn't extended an invitation to the Russian Federation for participation in the summit on Ukraine, signaling Moscow's refusal to participate under any circumstances. In addition, he further stated that Russia deemed the concept of a peace conference advanced by the organizers unacceptable, viewing it as an attempt to impose an unviable "peace formula" that disregards Russian interests.

Russia has found a new enemy: and that is not the US

The Russian diplomat has expressed strong reservations about Switzerland as a venue for a peace conference, alleging that it has forfeited its neutral status and transitioned from neutrality to overt hostility. Lavrov adamantly rejected Ukraine's proposed peace formula and instead expressed admiration for China's proposal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, criticized the conference organizers' intentions to build a common approach to resolving hostilities, terming it a "trick." She restated Russia's reluctance to attend the summit, even if an invitation was granted, and predicted that Western governments will use it as an opportunity to give ultimatums to Russia.

Zakharova stressed the necessity of engagement from countries in the Global South in bolstering what she saw as a collective ultimatum issued by Western countries to Russia. She asked allies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to be cautious about participating in what she described as yet another anti-Russian campaign.

The Russian Foreign Ministry representative also criticized Switzerland's neutrality, citing its alignment with Ukrainian positions and imposition of sanctions against Russia. Zakharova dismissed measures based on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's peace formula as detached from reality and lacking prospects.

State Duma deputy from Sevastopol and a member of the International Affairs Committee Dmitry Belik denounced Zelensky's plan as an "obituary written by Western curators." He argued that the plan imposed impossible conditions on Russia and undelighted "that the special military operation will continue until led by the neo-Nazi regime the state entity called Ukraine disappears, completely ceasing its economic and political existence". He emphasized Zelensky's apparent lack of decision-making autonomy by portraying him as obedient to Western interests.

Russian 7-point "peace plan": any real peace suggested?

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, presented the seven-point Russian "peace" proposal, which calls for Ukraine to admit "defeat in the conflict and unconditionally capitulate."

Demilitarizing Ukrainian territory and outlawing the establishment of paramilitary groups were two of Medvedev's key points. He said that the international world must acknowledge the Nazi nature of the Kyiv administration and called for the mandatory denazification of all Ukrainian government institutions under UN supervision. In addition, he demanded that the UN declare Ukraine's loss of international legal status and that Russia had to approve Ukraine's future membership in military alliances.

Medvedev's plan calls for holding UN-supervised elections in Ukraine to elect a provisional parliament. 

The final components of the Russian peace formula are the adoption of laws for the reunification of former Ukrainian areas with Russia and the official recognition of the entire territory of the former "Ukraine" by its interim parliament as a part of the Russian Federation. The interim parliament would then dissolve itself, and the UN would recognize the act of reunification.

Based on such an adaptable framework, Medvedev proposed seeking a constructive consensus with the international community, including the Anglo-Saxon world.

Referred to as the "peace formula of a provincial clown in green tights," he mocked Zelensky's peace offer and deemed it insufficient.

All in all, the June 2024 Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland is a major step toward resolving the current Russian war against Ukraine. This initiative comes after four earlier international gatherings that were meant to garner widespread backing for a peace process predicated on Ukraine's proposals.

In the middle of all of this, Russia has shown itself opposing any project that contradicts its goal of removing Ukraine off the map of the globe. A number of Russian officials, notably Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, and Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, have attacked Switzerland for hosting the peace conference, claiming it is biased and hostile. Echoing these views, State Duma deputy Dmitry Belik criticized Ukraine's President Zelensky for being beholden to Western interests and denounced Zelensky's peace initiative as an instrument of Western manipulation.

By contrast, Russia's obstructionist stance and refusal to acknowledge its status as a terrorist state are highlighted by the proposed Russian "peace" formula, which is replete with demands for coercion and contempt for Ukrainian sovereignty.\ The article was originally published on the Kremlin's Voice platform.

Alona Hryshko
Senior analyst at Internews Ukraine