In Riyadh, a secret meeting of delegates from Ukraine, the Group of Seven (G-7), and several countries with a more neutral stance toward the war took place last month, with a focus on strategies for peace talks with Russia, Bloomberg News reported this week.

The meeting was held in secret as some of the participating countries, notably India and Saudi Arabia, have been trying to preserve their respective relationships with Moscow during the almost two-year invasion of Ukraine. Russia was not invited to the talks. China, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates declined the invitation. Brazil contributed only a written statement.

Moscow described the secret Riyadh meetings as a “farce,” Bloomberg reported.

The outcome produced little progress on agreements about how to advance the West’s “Peace Formula,” as Ukraine and members of the G-7 nations balked at suggestions from the Global South delegates of direct engagement with Moscow.

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Ukraine and its allies have held firm to the belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no interest in serious negotiations and that his objective to retain occupied territories in Ukraine remains unshaken despite massive losses.

The Western partners also expressed little confidence that Moscow will respect the basic tenets of any peace talks concerning Ukrainian sovereignty as Russia has failed to comply with such agreements in the past.

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The absence of Chinese delegates was seen as a handicap in any effective message emerging from the talks, because Beijing is seen as one of the only third parties with any perceived leverage within the Kremlin’s walls.

The next planned peace talks with Ukrainian partners and other countries will take place in Switzerland next week, with more than 100 nations invited, in the run-up to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, to be held Jan 15-19.

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