'The inaugural peace summit could become a format that would bring closer a just end to this war,' says Zelensky
'The inaugural peace summit could become a format that would bring closer a just end to this war,' says Zelensky AFP

World leaders from countries around the world will gather in Switzerland this weekend to try to work out a way towards a peace process for Ukraine -- albeit without Russia.

The gathering at the luxury Burgenstock resort, on a mountain ridge overlooking Lake Lucerne, will come immediately after the G7 summit in southern Italy, during which the wealthy democracies will also discuss Ukraine in the presence of its president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The G7, running from Thursday to Saturday, will look at ways to use frozen Russian assets to provide fresh aid to Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in February 2022.

Zelensky will then head to Switzerland, to be joined by G7 and other leaders for what has been billed as the first "Summit on Peace in Ukraine".

"We would like to have a very broad process with a view to lasting, just peace in Ukraine," Swiss President Viola Amherd told a press conference in Bern on Monday.

She said the event would lay the groundwork "for a future peace summit that would involve Russia".

"The conference will focus on topics of global interest -- nuclear security, food security and humanitarian aspects," she added.

Switzerland invited more than 160 delegations, representing countries and international organisations.

Amherd said more than 90 confirmations have been received so far, with around half from European countries, and with about 50 percent of countries represented by their heads of state or government.

French President Emmanuel Macron, US Vice President Kamala Harris, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are among those so far confirmed to be attending.

Organised at Ukraine's request, the outcome of the conference remains uncertain, although Switzerland is hoping for a joint final declaration.

"We need to do everything we can to bring an end to this violence," Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the press conference.

"At the end of this road there is not just world stability and safety but also the end of suffering for millions of victims."

Ukraine hopes to gain broad international support for its conditions to end the war with Russia, now in its third year.

"The inaugural peace summit could become a format that would bring closer a just end to this war," Zelensky said on June 7.

A German government source stressed it was "very important to avoid exaggerated expectations", calling it a "building block for a peaceful settlement of this conflict".

The programme, developed by Bern, draws on a 10-point peace plan presented by Zelensky in late 2022.

Amherd said it aims to find paths towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for Ukraine, based in international law and the United Nations charter; a possible framework to achieve this goal; and a roadmap as to how both parties could come together in a future peace process.

It will also touch on freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and on prisoners of war.

"If we agree on this and other basic principles, we have already made progress," the German government source said.

Up to 4,000 Swiss troops will be on duty, while 6.5 kilometres (four miles) of steel fencing is going up.

Switzerland said there had already been cyber attacks and extreme misinformation surrounding the conference, without giving details.

The Kremlin has repeatedly indicated it will not participate in any negotiations if Kyiv does not accept Moscow's annexation of the approximately 20 percent of Ukrainian territory Russia currently occupies.

As Russia no longer considers Switzerland to be neutral, Moscow said it was not interested in participating in the summit. Bern therefore did not issue an invitation.

Further summits hosted by other nations are tentatively envisaged.

Cassis said it was more a question of "when Russia will be on board" in the process rather than if.

As for China, he said they would not attend a summit without Russia at the table.

"We continue to be in contact and work together but it's difficult for China to participate at the moment", he said, adding that Beijing had hitherto "really helped give us a hand on this journey".

Turkey and India have confirmed they will participate in the conference, while Russia's BRICS allies Brazil and South Africa are yet to officially confirm their attendance, Cassis said.

He welcomed the possibility of parallel peace proceedings involving China and other states not coming to the Burgenstock.

"Anything that can be done to walk through that mindset would be beneficial, because the mindset might be different," he said.