By Victoria Waldersee and Dmitry Zhdannikov
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) -China needs to be involved in efforts to end the war between Ukraine and Russia, Switzerland’s co-chair of a meeting of top diplomats to prepare the ground for a peace plan said on Sunday.
“China plays a significant role. We must find ways to work with China on this,” Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis told a news conference after a session of the meeting.
China was not represented at the gathering of national security advisers ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The meeting of more than 80 officials is the fourth such gathering organised by Ukraine, which Cassis said must pave the way to talks between Moscow and Kyiv on ending the war.
“A peace for the Ukrainian people is urgently necessary … We must do everything to end this war,” Cassis said, adding that so far Russia and Ukraine were not willing to make concessions.
Cassis said that countries that had a dialogue with Russia, such as Brazil, India and South Africa, were involved in the discussions in Davos and could play an important role.
“The participation of the BRICs alliance is very important because these countries have a relationship to Russia … All this can create this collective movement to bring in countries that are far from the conflict but can play a role in influencing China and Russia,” Cassis said.
The role of the Global South in Ukraine’s peace formula talks has come into focus in Davos. Many of the non-aligned countries from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia that have largely stayed on the sidelines over Ukraine will be represented in the Swiss mountain resort this week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was not at Sunday’s meeting. But Cassis said he would appear at the summit and there would be opportunities for diplomats to speak to him.
Zelenskiy was represented by his chief of staff Andriy Yermak, who said there were participants from 18 Asian countries, 12 African countries and 6 South American countries.
“Countries from the Global South are increasingly involved in our work,” Yermak said earlier on his Telegram account.
Ukraine, with strong backing from its allies, has consistently said it will not give up until it has reclaimed every piece of territory that Russia has taken.
It is unclear, however, if countries in the Global South agree with that as a peace formula.
Nigeria’s national security adviser Nuhu Ribadu told Reuters that the African oil exporting country stood by Zelenskiy’s side, saying it will deal with the consequences of rising food prices as a result of the war.
The talks were also attended by the U.S. special representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker, as well as James O’Brien, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
As concerns grow about ongoing U.S. support for the war in Ukraine during an election year, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are both expected to address the WEF, which officially starts on Monday evening.
(Additional reporting by Megan Davies, Antoni Slodkowski and Maha El Dahan; Writing by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Alexander Smith)