KYIV - President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is stepping up calls for China to join the Ukrainian Peace Formula more forcefully for a true and just peace.
Any countries that support the plan should help to implement a call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, he added during an interview in Kyiv.
Ukraine is bringing together a global majority for the full implementation of the Peace Formula and is now preparing for the fourth Global Peace Summit.
This will allow all nations to show their leadership in implementing certain points of the formula, since a full-fledged war between Russia and Ukraine started on Feb 24 last year.
"Today we have started talking to other countries. At our last meeting of advisers in Malta, there were 66 countries. Three meetings have already taken place. These are Copenhagen, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and the third meeting in Malta.
''The fourth meeting will be in February. We hope that we will be able to do all this in time. Most likely, this meeting will be held in Switzerland. Why is this the fourth meeting and the last in this block? Because the advisers are meeting and developing materials to resolve 10 points [of the Peace Formula],'' Zelensky said.
"I would very much like to see China join the peace formula more strongly. We started talking at the ambassadorial level here in Ukraine. I commissioned the head of the office. I have had many meetings with ambassadors from many countries, including the Chinese embassy. We are also waiting for China to be represented in the peace formula at the next meeting at the level of advisors.
"By the way, the Chinese representative was at one of these meetings. It was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The global south is very important to us,'' Zelensky added.
He said he believes China can wield significant influence over Russia in terms of respecting territorial integrity because China itself is constantly promoting this.
"So I would really like China to work in this direction and support Ukraine. I think China has a great influence on the Russian Federation. We would not want China to provide any kind of military assistance to Russia, and this does not refer to individual weapons. It concerns various technologies that China has.
"Russia is isolated and Russia is without China's support. It will have to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty and respect the peace in Ukraine without the support of Asia as a whole, without the Arab world,'' the Ukrainian president said.
Zelensky was speaking to a group of seven journalists from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia who were invited to Ukraine from Nov 23 to Dec 3 to talk to civil society members, businessmen, soldiers, survivors, peace advocates and other Ukrainians affected by Russia's war.
The group interview lasted one hour at his office in the centre of the Ukrainian capital.
The trip was organised by Ukraine-based NGO Public Interest Journalism Lab, a group that researches and creates best practices for public journalism in the digital age.
Zelensky mentioned last year during his speech to the leaders of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, that the peace formula comprises 10 items or criteria. It can be considered a roadmap for the long-term effort to end Russia's war in Ukraine.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is stepping up calls for China to join the Ukrainian Peace Formula more forcefully for a true and just peace.
- Plan sees progress -
This 10-point plan consists of calling for radiation and nuclear safety, food security, energy security, the release of all prisoners and deportees, implementation of the UN Charter and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the former world order, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a cessation of hostilities, justice, the immediate protection of the environment, prevention of escalation and confirmation of the end of the war.
Asked for his thoughts on the plan's potential, and how much confidence he had in the full withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Ukrainian territory, Zelensky replied candidly.
"How can you work and not believe in the success of your work? How can you live in a country and fight for it if you don't love it? I am convinced that each of us, in our place, must believe in success, and then the result of each and every work of each of us will definitely lead to success. I'm not talking about fireworks, I'm not talking about loud parades. We are talking about success. Success is the peace that Ukraine deserves 100%,'' he said.
He went on to say the war was unprovoked and also a total war on the territory of Ukraine, which is why he has proposed a formula for peace.
"Who knows Thailand better than the people who live there? We can come to you, we can have a holiday there. But we cannot come to you and tell you how to live, what to do, what is best for you, whether we like your nature or not.
"You have to keep your thoughts to yourself. This is your land. We are only your guests. We have to behave like guests, and that's why when I come to you, unfortunately, I don't have this chance now, but after the war I would like to. When I was there, when I came, there are rules and legislation.
"If you don't like it, don't come. But you cannot come and change things. It's the same in this war. Russia wanted to be heard in Ukraine about something. It should have spoken not with weapons, but with words. It violated our law, it violated our constitution, and it invaded Ukraine and occupied our territories,'' he said.
"It was protecting our population and its population and its state. If you come to us, you are a guest. What kind of guest is armed? This is not a guest, this is a person who has come to destroy you. That is why we are fighting. We are fighting for what is ours because we do not believe that Russia wants peace,'' he said.
As for the formula for peace, he said the war is here, on this territory.
"Why should someone tell us how to end this war? When we know the challenges, we know what they have caused, what crises, what has been lost. But we are open, and we want to engage as many states as possible with their vision as well, but on our basis, in the peace formula, in this platform that I proposed as president of Ukraine.
"Please, we have offered everyone. Yes, there may be elements of other states there, and we don't mind, but we cannot say that Ukraine's formula is not suitable and we will give them our peace. What does that mean? It's the same as Russia saying that we will bring our own peace. No one can bring their peace to someone else's territory and land, to other people's homes. That is why this is our base,'' the Ukrainian president said.
He said the advisers have already resolved five points of the plan, leaving five to go. He believed that the last meeting of the advisors, in Switzerland, is enough to build a vision for these remaining points.
"After that meeting and these developments, the next meeting will be the first summit at the level of leaders. It will be a basic summit on basic things and a common vision of how to implement all the ways that will lead to the end of the war," Zelensky said.
"We are not saying that everything will end at this summit, but it is important for us that we have the same vision of how to resolve this or that issue. We are not forcing, because we are fighting for democracy and freedom. Similarly, in the peace formula, we do not force all countries to support the entire formula and all 10 points. No. Please,'' he said.
- 'Up to you' -
Zelensky said he suggested countries which may be split among themselves should represent this or that point. For example, food security or nuclear security.
"If you have nuclear power plants, you are a professional person, or you have nuclear weapons and you want to talk about this point, and so on. There are also points about the return of children, justice, etc. So there are 10 points that we believe are basic. I emphasise once again that they are basic, where we are ready to hear from other states,'' he said.
He said Ukraine has faced environmental disasters as a result of the war.
"For example, the Kakhovka dam was blown up, which led to a real disaster of microclimate changes in the Kakhovka direction in that region, changes in many things, a shortage of drinking water, changes in many things. Flooded mines are another disaster that also leads to environmental disasters. There are many such points," he said.
"After the first basic meeting at the level of leaders, we will then work out in great detail and meticulously the mechanism for addressing each point with certain states that will represent this or that point.
"And after that, I believe, six months will be enough to work out and come up with a ready-made document that will be supported by all. I am sure that it will be offered to the world,'' he said.
- Russian troops must go -
Mr Zelenskyy said that regardless of whether Russia agrees to withdraw its troops, if the world wants the war to end, all countries that support the peace formula have to find a way to implement this point. Otherwise, it will be a frozen conflict.
"I would not want this. I wouldn't want our children and grandchildren to live and grow up with the idea that there will come a time when someone will turn on 'play' again (to restart the war).
"I would not want this war to start again. That's why I really want this document to be detailed and the number of countries to be fundamental, and for countries to be from different continents, with different opinions,'' Zelensky said.
Anucha Charoenpo, Bangkok Post news editor and one of seven journalists invited to Ukraine, shakes hands with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo supplied)
A group of seven journalists from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia at an interview with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.