Peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow must respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, says Taoiseach

Russia and China not in attendance at peace conference talks involving more than 100 state and institutional representatives taking place amid high security at Swiss mountaintop resort

Taoiseach, Simon Harris, addressed the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland urging leaders to stand with Ukraine "for as long as it takes".

Taoiseach Simon Harris has warned that any peace deal between Kyiv and Moscow that does not respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity would be a “devastating development” for the postwar order.

He is pressing the issue of Ukrainian child abductions at the Bürgenstock summit near Lucerne in Switzerland. Over 100 governments and international organisations have gathered at a mountain resort until Sunday to map out future steps towards a peace agreement.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told more than 100 state and institutional representatives “everyone here today is for the same, just peace”.

“Our nations are stronger than any aggressor,” he said. “The very idea of international law remains alive and your presence here proves that the UN charter and basic conventions are not a formality but real conditions of coexistence.”


Russia has avoided the gathering and, on its eve, President Vladimir Putin proposed a peace deal which would involve Ukraine ceding territory now controlled by Russian troops.

Taoiseach, Simon Harris, addressed the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland urging leaders to stand with Ukraine "for as long as it takes".

“I don’t think Putin is in any position to be setting preconditions,” said Mr Harris, insisting any peace process and final settlement would have to respect territorial integrity of Ukraine. “If we in Europe are even to consider anything that is counter to this, that would be a devastating development. It is not plausible from an Irish, an EU and a global perspective.”

The Taoiseach called the gathering, the largest since the war began in February 2022, an “important moment to begin the process of mapping out what peace may look like”.

Main talks are focusing on issues of nuclear safety, food security and humanitarian concerns.

Ukraine quandary: Questions of war and peace hang over Zelenskiy’s Switzerland summitOpens in new window ]

Ireland already assists Ukraine on demining and cybersecurity and is providing electricity generators. Mr Harris is participating in a breakout group looking at the issue of an estimated 20,000 children abducted from their families and removed from Ukraine since the war began.

“This is not just something that is illegal, it is morally repugnant,” said Mr Harris, promising to push for increased pressure Russia on this issue – directly and through intermediaries.

China, a key intermediary with Russia, stayed away from a gathering it views as a talking shop.

Mr Harris said he regretted the absence, saying China “has every right to express any view it wishes”, but that he hoped other countries would come on board in future.

“Talking is important and, in democratic countries, that is what we do,” he said. “We talk lots, we engage and try to bring together a consensus.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin said Russia would enter peace talks if Ukraine dropped its NATO ambitions and withdrew troops. Video: Reuters

With Russia and China absent, attention in the opening session focused on Saudi Arabia, seen as an intermediary with Moscow and a potential host country for a second-step conference.

Foreign minister Faisal bin al Saud expressed hope the Swiss gathering would lead to a “political track” of “fair dialogue between all parties”.

“Any credible process will require Russian participation and we hope the outcome of the summit reflects those aims,” he said.

Opening the conference, hosted by Switzerland at Ukraine’s request, Swiss federal president Viola Amherd said “we are all aware that a peace process without Russia is inconceivable, a lasting solution must involve all parties”.

“As the international community we can help pave the way there, that is why we are here,” she said.

A Swiss police officer stands guard during the summit in Lucerne. Photograph: Sedat Suna/Getty Images

In advance of the gathering US vice-president Kamala Harris pledged a €1.4 billion package to help repair energy generation infrastructure damaged by Russian bombardments.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told delegates that Russia’s attack was a violation of the UN charter and a “cautionary tale for the entire world”.

“Our common task is to reaffirm the primacy of the United Nations charter,” she said.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz dismissed Russia’s proposals on the eve of the gathering, saying a “ceasefire based on new realities would only legitimise an illegal land grab”.

“It would result in another frozen conflict that is unjust, dangerous and not sustainable for Ukraine, Europe or the international community as a whole,” he said.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin