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Nuclear safety, food security on agenda for second day of Ukraine peace summit

People walk in the media centre before the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, June 15, 2024
People walk in the media centre before the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, June 15, 2024 Copyright Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2024. The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2024. The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted “history being made” that aims to plot the first steps toward peace even though experts and critics don't expect any major breakthroughs because Russia isn't attending.

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Working groups are expected to discuss nuclear safety, food security and humanitarian assistance on the second day of a two-day international peace summit on Ukraine.

More than 90 countries, along with representatives of international bodies, are participating in the summit at the Bürgenstock resort in central Switzerland.

Nuclear safety has been a concern among European leaders since the earliest days of Russia's invasion.

Russian forces seized control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in March 2022 and still occupies the site to this day.

It's the largest nuclear facility in Europe and before the war it supplied 30% of Ukraine's electricity but has stopped generating power for the national gird since September 2022.

But intermittent fighting around the plant continues with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi warning in April that an accident was dangerously close.

The IAEA has had a rotating team of inspectors on site since late 2022 and Grossi warned that these "reckless attacks must cease immediately."

He also said that "two years of war are weighing heavily on nuclear safety at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," and that "every one of the IAEA's seven pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised."

In February 2022 Russian forces also seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant – the site of a catastrophic nuclear disaster in 1986 – but abandoned the site that March.

Food security

In February, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said "Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the greatest military-related increase in global food insecurity in at least a century."

Ukraine has been nicknamed the 'breadbasket of Europe' and its fertile soils place it among the top three grain exporters in the world but those supply lines have been massively disrupted.

Russia has often targeted Ukraine's agriculture sector, including strikes on production infrastructure, farmland, fields and warehouses.

The Black Sea Initiative, together with the Memorandum of Understanding on facilitating exports of Russian food products and fertilizers, have been a lifeline for global food security and a beacon of hope in a troubled world.  
Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary General

Russia's occupation of the Crimean peninsula and its Black Sea fleet that is based there has also meant supply routes by sea through the Bosphorus and out into the Mediterranean have been impacted.

In July 2022 Türkiye and the United Nations brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine that allowed for the safe export of Ukrainian grain through three Black Sea ports. Nearly 33 million metric tons of grain were exported under the deal but Russia withdrew in July last year citing dissatisfaction with the terms governing its own exports and it collapsed. 

Last year, Ukraine became the most mined country in the world with hidden munitions disrupting agricultural productivity. 

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In March last year the European Union, the Kyiv School of Economics, the United Nations and the World Bank estimated that the total cost in losses and damage to Ukraine's agriculture sector totalled $40.2 (€37.5 billion).

'History being made'

On day one of the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted “history being made” that aims to plot the first steps toward peace even though experts and critics don't expect any major breakthroughs because Russia isn't attending.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference as part of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, June 15, 2024
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference as part of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, June 15, 2024Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2024. The AP. All rights reserved.

In a brief statement to reporters alongside Swiss President Viola Amherd at the outset of the summit, Zelenskyy cast the gathering as a success, saying: “We have succeeded in bringing back to the world the idea that joint efforts can stop war and establish a just peace.”

Although his country didn't attend, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday took the rare step of clearly laying out his conditions for ending the war. But his proposals didn’t include any new demands, and Kyiv blasted them as “manipulative” and “absurd.”

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Putin told Russian diplomats and senior lawmakers on Friday that he would “immediately” order a cease-fire and begin negotiations if Ukraine drops its bid to join NATO and starts withdrawing troops from four regions that Moscow illegally annexed in 2022.

Although Putin's demands are a non-starter for Ukraine, Kyiv is currently unable to negotiate from a position of strength, analysts say.

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