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


Conservative Muslim Forum seeks UK govt talks over Islamophobia scandal

Conservative Muslim Forum seeks UK govt talks over Islamophobia scandal
Updated 13 sec ago
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Conservative Muslim Forum seeks UK govt talks over Islamophobia scandal

Conservative Muslim Forum seeks UK govt talks over Islamophobia scandal
  • CMF deputy chair: ‘Is the party racist or Islamophobic? I would say no, from my heart. Individuals? Yes’
  • PM fails to call comments by ex-deputy party chair, ex-home secretary Islamophobic 

LONDON: The Conservative Muslim Forum has said it is seeking to meet with senior government figures as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his party continue to battle ongoing allegations of Islamophobia.

It comes after the party’s former deputy party chair, Lee Anderson, was suspended by the Conservatives for remarks about Mayor of London Sadiq Khan last week, and an article by former Home Secretary Suella Braverman for the Daily Telegraph claimed that “the Islamists, the extremists and the antisemites are in charge” of the UK.

Anderson refused to apologize for his claim that Islamists had “got control” of Khan and London.

Naveed Asghar, deputy chair of the CMF, told The Guardian: “Is the party racist or Islamophobic? I would say no, from my heart. Individuals? Yes. Are these people pandering to the vote base in their seats? I can’t see what’s going on.

“If he (Anderson) is doubling down on the comments, then the party should absolutely be having a word with him. I was hoping that the suspension would be enough.

“Any inflammatory remarks are just not acceptable, whether it’s people on the left making antisemitic comments or people on the right making anti-Muslim comments.”

On a visit to East Yorkshire on Monday, Sunak refused condemn Braverman’s article, saying: “I think that those comments were not about an individual in particular.”

He also stopped short of calling Anderson’s comments Islamophobic, saying: “I’ve been very clear that what he said was wrong, it was unacceptable, and that’s why we suspended (him).

“It’s important that everybody, but particularly elected politicians, are careful with their words and do not inflame tensions.”


Hungary’s parliament ratifies Sweden’s NATO accession, clearing the final obstacle to membership

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, bottom right, addresses a parliament session.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, bottom right, addresses a parliament session.
Updated 26 February 2024
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Hungary’s parliament ratifies Sweden’s NATO accession, clearing the final obstacle to membership

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, bottom right, addresses a parliament session.
  • Hungary is the last of the alliance’s 31 members to give its backing since Turkiye ratified the request last month
  • Vote on Monday removed final membership hurdle for Sweden which first applied to join alliance in May 2022

BUDAPEST: Hungary’s parliament voted Monday to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO, bringing an end to more than 18 months of delays that have frustrated the alliance as it seeks to expand in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The vote, which passed with 188 votes for and six against, came as a culmination of months of wrangling by Hungary’s allies to convince its nationalist government to lift its block on Sweden’s membership. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán submitted the protocols for approving Sweden’s entry into NATO in July 2022, but the matter had stalled in parliament over opposition by governing party lawmakers.
Unanimous support among all NATO members is required to admit new countries, and Hungary is the last of the alliance’s 31 members to give its backing since Turkiye ratified the request last month.
Orbán, a right-wing populist who has forged close ties with Russia, has said that criticism of Hungary’s democracy by Swedish politicians had soured relations between the two countries and led to reluctance among lawmakers in his Fidesz party.
But the vote on Monday removed the final membership hurdle for Sweden which, along with neighboring Finland, first applied to join the alliance in May 2022.
Addressing lawmakers before the vote, Orbán said: “Sweden and Hungary’s military cooperation and Sweden’s NATO accession strengthen Hungary’s security.”
Orbán criticized Hungary’s European Union and NATO allies for placing increased pressure on his government in recent months to move forward on bringing Sweden into the alliance.
“Several people tried to intervene from the outside in the settling of our disputes (with Sweden), but this did not help but rather hampered the issue,” Orbán said. “Hungary is a sovereign country, it does not tolerate being dictated by others, whether it be the content of its decisions or their timing.”
Last weekend, a bipartisan group of US senators visited Hungary and announced it would submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning Hungary’s alleged democratic backsliding and urging Orbán’s government to immediately lift its block on Sweden’s trans-Atlantic integration.
But on Friday, Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s prime minister, met with Orbán in Hungary’s capital where they appeared to reach a decisive reconciliation after months of diplomatic tensions.
Following their meeting, the leaders announced the conclusion of a defense industry agreement that will include Hungary’s purchase of four Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jets and the extension of a service contract for its existing Gripen fleet.
Orbán said the additional fighter jets “will significantly increase our military capabilities and further strengthen our role abroad” and will improve Hungary’s ability to participate in joint NATO operations.
“To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other,” Orbán said. “A deal on defense and military capacities helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries.”
Monday’s vote on Sweden’s NATO accession was just one matter on a busy agenda for lawmakers in the Hungarian parliament. A vote was also held on accepting the resignation of President Katalin Novák, who stepped down earlier this month in a scandal over her decision to pardon to a man convicted of covering up a string of child sexual abuses.
After accepting Novák’s resignation, lawmakers are expected to confirm Tamás Sulyok, the president of Hungary’s Constitutional Court, as the country’s new president. He is set to formally take office on March 5.
Some opposition parties have said they will not participate in a vote to confirm a new president and have called for direct presidential elections. But Sulyok was nominated by Orbán’s Fidesz party, which has a two-thirds majority in parliament and is expected to easily approve his presidency.
A presidential signature is needed to formally endorse the approval of Sweden’s NATO bid, which is expected within the next few days.


Bangladesh proposes new digital platform to counter Israeli disinformation on Palestine

Bangladesh proposes new digital platform to counter Israeli disinformation on Palestine
Updated 26 February 2024
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Bangladesh proposes new digital platform to counter Israeli disinformation on Palestine

Bangladesh proposes new digital platform to counter Israeli disinformation on Palestine
  • Israel’s ‘systematic misinformation campaigns’ aim to ‘cover its brutality and genocidal massacres’ in Gaza, OIC says
  • At least 88 journalists have been killed in Palestine since Israel’s onslaught on Gaza began in October 

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s state minister for information has proposed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation create a collaborative digital platform to combat Israel’s disinformation campaign against Palestine, as the Muslim grouping launches new plans to expose Tel Aviv’s war crimes. 

Information ministers of OIC member countries were in Turkiye over the weekend for an extraordinary session discussing Israel’s disinformation campaign and attacks on journalists in Gaza, where nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since October. 

State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammed Ali Arafat said Israel’s “despicable disinformation campaign” is an attempt to cover its blatant war crimes in Gaza, including the indiscriminate targeting of babies and children, as well as journalists and humanitarian workers. 

“The world has hardly seen the continued killing of journalists and the spreading of disinformation as is happening in Gaza. I believe fighting to contain and combat against such dissemination of misinformation needs collective effort,” Arafat told the participants. 

At least 88 journalists and media workers were among the tens of thousands of Palestinians killed in over four months since Israel began its onslaught on Gaza, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists. 

“We need to create a collaborative digital platform to combat the spreading of such disinformation against Palestine. I request the OIC Secretariat to prepare a plan in this regard immediately,” Arafat said. 

Bangladesh is ready to support the OIC in establishing an information pool documenting Israeli war crimes that can be regularly shared with its member states, he added. 

“Muslim Ummah must work together to stop this massacre and let the world know the truth. Bangladesh supports and stands firm by our Palestinian brothers and sisters in this dire situation.” 

In a final communique, OIC information ministers condemned Israel’s “systematic misinformation campaigns” to “cover its brutality and genocidal massacres committed in the Gaza Strip.”

The 57-member organization also condemned Israel’s “systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists,” describing it as part of a campaign to “silence the voices of truth-tellers.” 

The OIC said they are determined to collectively “counter and expose attempts by the Israel colonial occupation to cover up the destruction” in the besieged enclave, as they mandate the group’s media monitoring unit to establish an action plan to “lay bare and counter” the Israeli disinformation campaign at the international level. 


US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

Police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.
Police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.
Updated 26 February 2024
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US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

Police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.
  • The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media
  • In the video, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid

WASHINGTON: An active member of the US Air Force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington over the weekend in protest of the war in Gaza, the Pentagon said Monday.
Emergency responders on Sunday had rushed to the scene just before 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) in response to a “call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy,” according to a message on X, formerly Twitter, by the capital city’s fire department.
They arrived to find that officers from the Secret Service — the US law enforcement agency tasked with protecting embassies in Washington — had already extinguished the fire.
The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media.
He was initially transported to hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries,” the fire department said.
An Air Force spokeswoman told AFP Monday morning that the unnamed “individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night.”
“We will provide additional details 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications are complete.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured in the incident, and that the man was “unknown” to them.
In the video shared on social media, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid.
He then lights himself on fire while yelling “Free Palestine!” until he falls on the ground.
The video was reportedly first shared in a livestream on the social platform Twitch.
The shocking act came as protests are increasing across the United States against Israel’s actions in Gaza, where it is waging a retaliatory war for an attack on October 7 by Hamas militants.
With the death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there, international pressure has been increasing on the United States to rein in its ally Israel and call for a ceasefire.


Russia seeks to imprison veteran rights advocate for nearly 3 years over Ukraine war criticism

Russia seeks to imprison veteran rights advocate for nearly 3 years over Ukraine war criticism
Updated 26 February 2024
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Russia seeks to imprison veteran rights advocate for nearly 3 years over Ukraine war criticism

Russia seeks to imprison veteran rights advocate for nearly 3 years over Ukraine war criticism
  • The prosecution demanded that Oleg Orlov, 70, be convicted of “repeatedly discrediting” the Russian army

The Russian authorities on Monday sought a prison sentence of nearly three years for a veteran human rights advocate who spoke out against the war in Ukraine.
The prosecution demanded that Oleg Orlov, 70, be convicted of “repeatedly discrediting” the Russian army and sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison, in a retrial after he was earlier ordered to pay a fine. In a move that underscored how little tolerance President Vladimir Putin’s government has for criticism of its invasion of Ukraine, the prosecution appealed the fine, seeking a harsher punishment.
The charges against Orlov, co-chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial, came after he posted on Facebook an article he wrote denouncing the invasion of Ukraine. He has rejected the case against him as politically motivated.
A court in Moscow in October 2023 delivered a guilty verdict and fined Orlov 150,000 rubles (about $1,500 at the time), a significantly milder punishment compared to the lengthy prison terms some other Russians have received for criticizing the war.
Both the defense and the prosecution appealed the verdict, and a higher court voided the fine and sent the case back to the prosecutors. A new trial began earlier this month, another step in a yearslong, unrelenting crackdown on dissent in Russia that the Kremlin ratcheted up after sending troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
The hearing on Monday drew over 100 supporters and more than a dozen Western diplomats, Russian independent news site Mediazona reported. Orlov brought a book to the hearing — “The Trial” by Franz Kafka — reflecting his view of the trial as absurd. At a hearing on Thursday, Orlov read the novel and refused to engage in the proceedings.