After Jeddah summit, Ukraine’s peace formula only way forward, says Kyiv’s FM Dmytro Kuleba

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Updated 16 August 2023
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After Jeddah summit, Ukraine’s peace formula only way forward, says Kyiv’s FM Dmytro Kuleba

After Jeddah summit, Ukraine’s peace formula only way forward, says Kyiv’s FM Dmytro Kuleba
  • Ukraine’s top diplomat says the world is moving towards a global peace summit
  • Commends Saudi Arabia’s “constructive role in international politics”
  • Says the Global South has suffered as a result of Russian aggression

RIYADH: The world is moving closer to a peace summit, but an end to the conflict with Russia can only be achieved if Ukraine’s peace plan is adhered to, Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs, has told Arab News.

In an exclusive interview, conducted via Zoom, Kuleba said it was “premature” to discuss specific locations or dates for a global summit, but said the dialogue is moving in the right direction — provided the Ukrainian peace formula is implemented.

Senior officials from 42 countries met in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on August 5 and 6 in an attempt to draft key principles on ending war with Russia. The summit followed a similar forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, earlier this summer.

“Following the meeting in Jeddah, I can conclude that we’re definitely moving in that direction at a good pace and this is going to happen,” Kuleba said. “We are working hard with Saudi Arabia and other countries involved in arranging this summit, proposed by Ukraine.

“And the deliverable of this summit is very clear — that the peace formula of Ukraine, which is a comprehensive way to solve the conflict, will deliver, and all of the issues covered by this peace formula will begin to be implemented.

“This is the only way forward based on the UN Charter and international law.”

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has said he is hopeful that the diplomatic initiative will lead to a peace summit of world leaders in the autumn to endorse the principles, based on his own 10-point formula for a settlement.

He first presented the blueprint at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.




“Following the meeting in Jeddah, I can conclude that we’re definitely moving in that direction at a good pace and this is going to happen,” Kuleba said. (SPA)

It covered nuclear safety, food and energy security, the release of prisoners, the restoration of territory, the cessation of hostilities, accountability for war crimes, environmental safety, the prevention of future aggression, and confirmation of war’s end.

For its part, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently commented that Moscow appreciated the “mediating and humanitarian initiatives” of friends of Russia, but reiterated her country’s rejection of Ukraine’s “peace formula.”

“By promoting Zelensky’s formula, the Kiev regime and the West are attempting to belittle the great importance of peace initiatives proposed by other countries and to monopolize the right to their advancement,” she told a press conference last week. 

The Jeddah meeting concluded without a closing press conference, but the Kingdom has maintained its desire to serve as a neutral intermediary between Russia and Ukraine. On Tuesday, the Saudi Cabinet described the Jeddah summit as a continuation of the Crown Prince’s initiatives and efforts to contribute to the achievement of a lasting peace and reducing the impact and humanitarian impact of the crisis.

At the Copenhagen meeting in June, Ukraine’s demand that all Russian troops withdraw before peace talks could start was seen by some participating countries as an unrealistic demand.

Russia, which controls swathes of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, has said any negotiations need to take into account the “new territorial realities.”

Asked whether this means the positions of the two nations are irreconcilable, Kuleba said Ukraine had “truth” on its side.

“From all perspectives, legal and political and economic and also historical, Russia must respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” he said.

“Its borders were recognized by Russia, as well as by the rest of the world, including Saudi Arabia and other countries. So the difference between our position and the position of Russia is that our position is legitimate and the Russian position is illegitimate.




Assistant Editor in Chief of Arab News Noor Nugali spoke with Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba in an exclusive interview. (AN photo)

“And the truth in this case is on our side. So why should we not be pursuing the truth?”

Commenting on the Jeddah summit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said “any attempt to promote a peaceful settlement deserves a positive evaluation.”

Asked whether this was a sign that Russia might be open to alternative avenues to peace, Kuleba said Kyiv does not trust Moscow’s words — only actions.

“I think it would be premature and naive to make any conclusions from one comment of the spokesperson of President Putin,” said Kuleba.

“On different occasions, not only him but also other senior Russian officials have stated that the Russian aggression against Ukraine will continue until Russia meets the objectives of this aggression.

“So, we do not trust Russian words. We want to see specific Russian actions and deeds on the ground to draw a conclusion that they are willing to restore peace. As of now, this does not seem to be the case.”

Arab News reached out to the Russian Embassy for comment, but was unsuccessful.

Kuleba acknowledged the prominent role Saudi Arabia has played in efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis, starting from the prisoner swap it brokered in September 2022 to Zelensky’s address to the Arab League in Jeddah in May this year and, most recently, as the host of this month’s summit.

“I believe Saudi Arabia has been playing a very constructive role in the matters related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” he said.




"When Russia unlawfully attacked Ukraine and installed the blockade of Ukrainian sea export of grain. This was illegal and unlawful, by definition,” Kuleba said. (AP)

“We understand that your leadership has recognized an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to play a truly global, constructive role in international politics.

“And I can only commend the vision and the leadership of your country in these matters because to solve global problems, you need global ambition. Saudi Arabia has clearly demonstrated that it has the ambition.

“As a result, it has also demonstrated it has the capacity to deliver, which can only be welcomed and commended.”

Ukrainian officials have lately shifted their diplomatic emphasis toward building support beyond Kyiv’s core Western backers by reaching out to the countries of the Global South.

Commenting on why Ukraine suddenly views the Global South as such an important constituency, Kuleba said many of these nations had suffered as a result of Russia’s aggression.

“Although the Russian aggression against Ukraine takes place in Europe, it has global repercussions and it’s the countries of the Middle East, of Asia, of Africa, of South America, who feel the consequences of the Russian aggression,” said Kuleba.

“This is why it is important to have all of these countries on board in a joint effort to end this conflict, to ease pressure on our economies, on global food security and, of course, to restore respect for international law, which is in everyone’s interest.”

Asked whether he believes nations like Turkiye, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and even China have sufficient incentives or influence to convince the Kremlin to change course, Kuleba said it would be a gradual process, but one that is moving in the right direction.

“If I look at the list of the countries who took part in the similar meeting of national security advisers and representatives of foreign ministries in Copenhagen slightly more than a month ago, and then at the follow-up meeting in Jeddah, I see that the number of countries participating is growing — including China, who joined the format for the first time — which speaks for the very simple fact that they do see value and their incentive is growing,” he said.

“It doesn’t happen in a day but the overall dynamics of this process is positive. And I would like to once again thank Saudi Arabia for playing a very constructive role in helping other countries to join the process and to realize their interests in this process.”

Kuleba said it was the collective voice of the Global South, as opposed to individual nations, that would ultimately bring Russia to the table.




(Saudi Arabia) has the capacity to deliver, which can only be welcomed and commended, Kuleba said. (AFP)

“If you take China, they enjoy a special relationship with Russia,” he said. “If you take Turkiye, they have a very deep relationship with Russia. If you take Saudi Arabia, you can say the same.

“So, perhaps every country acting on its own doesn’t have a sufficient amount of energy that could make Russia change its position. But if you take all of these countries together, the cumulative effect on Russia can be a game changer.

“And that is the purpose, to bring together everyone who is willing to change the situation for the good. Because together we can stop this war, we can implement a peace formula and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity, in the interests of the entire international community.”

There are nevertheless concerns among countries of the Global South about jeopardizing ties with Russia by siding with Ukraine. Indeed, even NATO itself seems unsure of how far to go in antagonizing Russia, refusing to offer a clear path for Ukraine to join the military alliance.

“I think these are two separate tracks,” said Kuleba. “Ukraine is steadily moving toward its integration into the EU and NATO for economic and security reasons. This is a very natural choice for our country, given our history and geography.

“Countries of the Global South have lost a lot as a result of the Russian aggression against our country. But this has nothing to do with our aspirations to become members of the EU or NATO.

“What countries of Asia, Africa, Middle East and South America want to see are stable global food markets, prospects of trade with Ukraine, and tapping the full potential of education for their students in Ukraine. All of these functioned perfectly before Russia attacked.

“So, I don’t have the impression that the countries of the world see the situation through the prism of Ukraine’s regional interests, which are about close integration with the EU and NATO.”

Ukraine appears to view Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July as an issue with which it could possibly rally support from the Global South.

Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters. The grain deal was brokered by the UN and Turkiye in July 2022 to help combat a global food crisis that had been worsened by the invasion.




Ukraine’s army is attempting to regain swathes of territory, including Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Russia now controls. (AP)

Russia said not enough grain had reached poor countries under the terms of the deal — a claim disputed by the UN. Moscow also felt that the part of the deal allowing for greater Russian agricultural exports was not being honored by the West owing to sanctions.

Responding to the Kremlin’s argument, Kuleba said Russia has no right to demand preferential terms amid a crisis of its own making.

“We have to go back to February 2022, when Russia unlawfully attacked Ukraine and installed the blockade of Ukrainian sea export of grain. This was illegal and unlawful, by definition,” he said.

“So, when Russia tries to bargain something for itself as a result of its own illegal actions, we cannot talk about accommodating Russia’s legitimate concerns and interests under these circumstances.

“Russia created the problem, and it has to make every effort to solve this problem, instead of trying to keep the blockade of Ukrainian ports, and while trying to secure its own interests in global affairs. This is just not how it works.

“If this kind of Russian behavior is tolerated, then other actors across the globe will be tempted to follow suit, to create problems and then try to solve these problems at the expense of others instead of just removing the initial reason — the fundamental reason for the problems that we all are facing.”

• Noor Nugali is the assistant editor in chief of Arab News


Once defiant, President Biden is now ‘soul searching’ about dropping out of race, source says

Once defiant, President Biden is now ‘soul searching’ about dropping out of race, source says
Updated 8 sec ago
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Once defiant, President Biden is now ‘soul searching’ about dropping out of race, source says

Once defiant, President Biden is now ‘soul searching’ about dropping out of race, source says
REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware: US President Joe Biden is taking calls to step aside as the Democratic presidential candidate seriously and multiple Democratic officials think an exit is a matter of time, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“His soul searching is actually happening, I know that for a fact,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity. “He’s thinking about this very seriously.”
Biden, 81, has faced increasing pressure from heavyweights in his party to cede his position at the top of the ticket after a shoddy debate performance against former President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, raised fears about his age and ability to win in November.
The president has pushed back defiantly against those calls, arguing that he has won millions of votes in primary races over the last several months and is Democratic voters’ choice. As recently as Wednesday, he vowed “I am all in” the 2024 race.
Another of the sources, a Democratic congressional aide, said the writing appeared to be on the wall for the president after lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly urged him to drop out of the race.
“It feels like it’s a matter of ... when, not if,” the aide said.
Biden is convalescing from COVID-19 at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He had no public events on Thursday after concluding a trip to the political swing state of Nevada on Wednesday.
Biden’s campaign is
focusing on three out of seven battleground states
after the debate, a narrow path to victory, but it has rejected suggestions that he is ready to step aside.
“He is not wavering on anything. The president has made his decision,” deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said in Milwaukee, where the Republican convention is taking place. “Joe Biden has said he is running for president of the United States. Our campaign is moving forward.”
Another source, a Biden campaign official, said the opposite. “Yes, it’s over. Just a matter of time.”

Bangladesh protesters set state TV HQ ablaze as toll mounts, Internet cut

Bangladesh protesters set state TV HQ ablaze as toll mounts, Internet cut
Updated 18 July 2024
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Bangladesh protesters set state TV HQ ablaze as toll mounts, Internet cut

Bangladesh protesters set state TV HQ ablaze as toll mounts, Internet cut
  • Death toll mounts to 32 as authorities impose “near-total” Internet blackout amid police’s clash with protesters
  • Protesters demand end to quota system reserving more than half of civil service posts for specific groups

DHAKA: Bangladeshi students set fire to the country’s state broadcaster on Thursday as protests against civil service hiring rules escalated, with the death toll mounting to at least 32 and monitors saying a “near-total” Internet blackout had been imposed.

Police fired with rubber bullets at hundreds of protesters, who fought back and chased retreating officers to the headquarters of Bangladesh Television (BTV) in the capital Dhaka.

Demonstrators set ablaze the network’s reception building and dozens of vehicles parked outside, with the broadcaster saying in a Facebook post that “many people” were trapped inside, although a station executive later told AFP they had safely evacuated the building.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared on the network seeking to calm the escalating clashes.

“Our first demand is that the prime minister must apologize to us,” protester Bidisha Rimjhim, 18, told AFP.

“Secondly, justice must be ensured for our killed brothers,” she added.

Widespread Internet outages went into effect, with websites for the Bangladesh home and foreign ministry, as well as the Dhaka Tribune and Daily Star newspapers, not available in the evening.

Bangladesh was experiencing a “near-total” Internet shutdown, outage monitor Netblocks said, posting a graphic online showing connectivity plummeting late Thursday from around 90 percent to about 10 percent.

It said the latest outage “follows earlier efforts to throttle social media and restrict mobile data services” — key communication tools for protest organizers.

Near-daily marches this month have demanded an end to a quota system that reserves more than half of civil service posts for specific groups, including children of veterans from the country’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

Critics say the scheme benefits children of pro-government groups that back Hasina, 76, who has ruled the country since 2009 and won her fourth consecutive election in January after a vote without genuine opposition.

Hasina’s government has ordered schools and universities to close indefinitely as police step up efforts to bring the deteriorating law and order situation under control.

Her administration is accused by rights groups of misusing state institutions to entrench its hold on power and stamping out dissent, including by the extrajudicial killing of opposition activists.

Mubashar Hasan, a Bangladesh expert at the University of Oslo in Norway, said the protests had grown into a wider expression of discontent with Hasina’s autocratic rule.

“They are protesting against the repressive nature of the state,” he told AFP.

“Protesters are questioning Hasina’s leadership, accusing her of clinging onto power by force,” he added. “The students are in fact calling her a dictator.”

The premier appeared on BTV on Wednesday night to condemn the “murder” of protesters and vow that those responsible will be punished regardless of political affiliation.

But violence worsened on the streets despite her appeal for calm as police again attempted to break up demonstrations with rubber bullets and tear gas volleys.

At least 25 people were killed on Thursday in addition to seven killed earlier in the week, with hundreds more wounded, according to an AFP tally based on hospital data.

Police weaponry was the cause of at least two-thirds of those deaths, based on descriptions given to AFP by hospital figures.

“We’ve got seven dead here,” an official at Uttara Crescent Hospital in Dhaka, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, told AFP.

“The first two were students with rubber bullet injuries. The other five had gunshot injuries.”

Nearly 1,000 others had been treated at the hospital for injuries sustained during clashes, the official said, adding many had rubber bullet wounds.

Didar Malekin of the online news outlet Dhaka Times told AFP that Mehedi Hasan, one of his reporters, had been killed while covering clashes in Dhaka.

Several cities across Bangladesh saw violence throughout the day as riot police marched on protesters who had begun another round of human blockades on roads and highways.

Helicopters rescued 60 police officers who were trapped on the roof of a campus building at Canadian University, the scene of some of Dhaka’s fiercest clashes, the elite Rapid Action Battalion police force said in a statement.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric appealed for “restraint from all sides.”

“We urge the government to ensure a conducive environment for dialogue. And we encourage protesters to engage in dialogue to resolve the deadlock,” he told reporters.

“Violence is never a solution.”

Before the late near-total Internet shutdown, junior telecommunications minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak told reporters that social media had been “weaponized as a tool to spread rumors, lies and disinformation,” forcing the government to restrict access.

Along with police crackdowns, demonstrators and students allied to the premier’s ruling Awami League have also battled each other on the streets with hurled bricks and bamboo rods.

Rights group Amnesty International said video evidence from clashes this week showed that Bangladeshi security forces had used unlawful force.


Migrants encounter hazards of food delivery on the streets of NYC

Migrants encounter hazards of food delivery on the streets of NYC
Updated 18 July 2024
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Migrants encounter hazards of food delivery on the streets of NYC

Migrants encounter hazards of food delivery on the streets of NYC
  • Asylum-seekers have gravitated to working food delivery in New York and other major cities

NEW YORK: Brad Song thought he was about to get his e-bike stolen a second time in a less than a month after delivering an order for Chinese food app Fantuan Delivery. Seven strangers surrounded the Chinese immigrant and knocked him off the scooter. He was rescued when a nearby motorist revved his engine, scaring the assailants.
His brakes were damaged and a phone used for navigation had its screen shattered, but, while the February attack in New York rattled Song, his bike and body emerged intact.
Asylum-seekers have gravitated to working food delivery in New York and other major cities, drawn by an abundance of customers and ease of getting started. But the job carries hazards, particularly thieves who target food delivery bikes. Newly arrived asylum-seekers have been easy targets. Some work without legal permission, which can make them fearful of seeking help in an emergency.
Dissatisfied with the police response, many delivery drivers have banded together.
Juan Solano, who migrated from the Mexican state of Guerrero in 2017, founded E l Diario de los Delivery Boys en la Gran Manzana, a group of delivery workers who help retrieve stolen e-bikes, often with the help of monitoring devices. Launched during the pandemic, the group has more than 50,000 followers on Facebook and a WhatsApp channel to alert delivery workers of robberies in real time.
Solano, 35, started working in food delivery during the pandemic with his nephew, Sergio, who had his e-bike stolen twice.
Thieves appear to target isolated areas near bridges that connect Manhattan to other boroughs, especially those with lighter police presence. They prey especially on those traveling alone.


White House: Biden expecting to meet Netanyahu next week

The Israeli and US governments have tentatively scheduled a meeting between Biden and Netanyahu on Monday. (File/AFP)
The Israeli and US governments have tentatively scheduled a meeting between Biden and Netanyahu on Monday. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 July 2024
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White House: Biden expecting to meet Netanyahu next week

The Israeli and US governments have tentatively scheduled a meeting between Biden and Netanyahu on Monday. (File/AFP)
  • Netanyahu will be in Washington next week for a July 24 address to a joint session of the US Congress
  • The two leaders have had strained relations for months over Netanyahu’s handling of the Gaza conflict

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden expects to be able to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week depending on his recovery from COVID-19, the White House said on Thursday.
Netanyahu will be in Washington next week for a July 24 address to a joint session of the US Congress. The two governments have tentatively scheduled a meeting between Biden and Netanyahu on Monday.
Vice President Kamala Harris will also meet Netanyahu while he is in Washington, a White House official said.
Biden, under pressure from some fellow Democrats to not seek reelection due to a disastrous debate performance against Republican Donald Trump on June 27, tested positive on Wednesday for COVID-19 and is recuperating at his beach house in Delaware. His current plan is to return to Washington on Sunday.
The two leaders have had strained relations for months over Netanyahu’s handling of the Gaza conflict where more than 38,000 people have been killed in Israel’s pursuit of Hamas militants responsible for the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed.
“We have every expectation that the two leaders will have the chance to see each other while Prime Minister Netanyahu is in town,” said White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, without mentioning a specific date.
“Obviously we need to make sure that the president’s health and his recovery from COVID takes priority and if and how that might affect the discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu, we’re just not in a position today to be able to help,” he told reporters.
The United States has been working with Qatar and Egypt to try to arrange a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict in order to free hostages held since Oct. 7 and get more humanitarian aid into the enclave
A US official said US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk was traveling to the Middle East on Thursday for consultations on the Gaza conflict, with stops planned in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, a US official said.
No deal appeared imminent. Kirby said McGurk’s trip was part of regular consultations.
Netanyahu’s visit would be his first visit to the White House since he returned to office in late 2022.
The Biden administration may have eased on one point of contention last week when it said it would resume shipping 500-pound bombs to Israel, though it said it would continue to hold back on supplying 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated Gaza.
In June, Netanyahu had criticized the United States for withholding some weapons, prompting Biden’s aides to express disappointment and confusion over the Israeli leader’s remarks.
The invitation for Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress was orchestrated by the House of Representatives’ Republican leadership, which has accused the Democratic president of not being supportive enough of Israel’s strategy in the Gaza war.
Addresses to joint meetings of Congress by foreign leaders are a rare honor generally reserved for the closest US allies or major world figures.
Netanyahu’s speech could highlight differences over Israel policy between Biden and some progressive Democrats, especially if some of them follow through on their threat to boycott the Israeli leader’s appearance.


British foreign secretary’s concern over former PM Johnson’s meeting with US presidential hopeful Trump

British foreign secretary’s concern over former PM Johnson’s meeting with US presidential hopeful Trump
Updated 18 July 2024
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British foreign secretary’s concern over former PM Johnson’s meeting with US presidential hopeful Trump

British foreign secretary’s concern over former PM Johnson’s meeting with US presidential hopeful Trump
  • Lammy admitted to LBC presenter Tom Swarbrick that he had not been aware the meeting was taking place

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary David Lammy expressed his concern on Thursday about a meeting between former UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Speaking on the LBC radio morning show, Lammy admitted to presenter Tom Swarbrick that he had not been aware the meeting was taking place.

Johnson posted a picture on social media of him meeting Trump at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, after which he said the former president was “on top form” and that they had discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The foreign secretary was asked if Johnson had followed protocol by informing the UK Foreign Office of his meeting with Trump, to which Lammy replied: “I’m not sure that Boris Johnson consults either Keir Starmer or us on his plans. And I certainly didn’t know.”

Lammy refused to be drawn when pressed by Swarbrick on whether the meeting went against “UK national interests” or not.

“The record will show that I had a friendship with Barack Obama, prior to him becoming president of the United States of America, and about a year or so into office, he was dealing with David Cameron (as prime minister),” he said.

“I would never have done anything to prejudice the UK national interests at that time. So the point you’re making is a serious one. I would hope that all former prime ministers would act in the UK national interests and not cut across us, particularly two weeks into office.

“You know, I’m not interested, actually, in the past. I’m interested in the future.”