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Jeddah Russia-Ukraine Summit Wraps, More Peace Talks Planned

FILE - A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on August 6, 2023 shows representatives posing for a group picture during a National Security advisors' meeting in Jeddah.

The Jeddah peace summit on Russia’s war against Ukraine concluded Sunday, with the participants agreeing to continue discussions, according to a closing statement released by host Saudi Arabia.

Senior officials from 42 countries participated in the two-day Jeddah peace summit, but none were from Russia.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s head of staff, Andriy Yermak, on Sunday called talks held in Jeddah “very productive,” while Moscow called the meeting a doomed attempt to sway the Global South behind Kyiv.

The high-level talks included delegates from the world economies of the BRICS group, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

The head of Brazil's delegation, foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim, stressed, however, that "any real negotiation must include all parties," including Russia, according to a copy of his statement shared with AFP.

"Although Ukraine is the biggest victim, if we really want peace, we have to involve Moscow in this process in some form," he said.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan led Washington's delegation at Jeddah, a senior White House official said.

Western officials and analysts said Saudi diplomacy had been important in securing China's presence at the talks.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, the kingdom has kept ties with both sides presenting itself as a mediator and seeking a bigger role on the world stage.

In his nightly video address from Jeddah, Zelenskyy said, “The greater the consolidation of the world for the sake of restoring a just peace is, the sooner an end will be put to the bombs and missiles with which Moscow wants to replace the norms of international law.”

Russia was not involved in this weekend’s talks and said it wouldn’t be part of the summit planned for the fall.

Beyond its Western backers, Ukraine hoped to garner diplomatic support from more Global South countries, including Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey emphasizing how food prices have risen after Russia quit the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal last month and began attacking Ukrainian port facilities.

Russia-Ukraine attacks

At least six people were killed from Russian and Ukrainian shelling overnight, while at least four others were injured.

Ukraine’s armed forces using missiles struck the Chonhar bridge connecting occupied Crimea and the occupied part of the Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine, while Russia pummeled western Ukraine with drones and missiles Sunday.

The Chonhar bridge attack came after Ukrainian naval drones struck a Russian fuel tanker and another vessel near the Crimean Kerch bridge overnight from Friday to Saturday, halting traffic.

The strikes on these ground lines of communication could create severe logistical challenges for Russian forces in southern Ukraine and facilitate the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said a drone was shot down Sunday south of Moscow, while Moscow’s Vnukovo airport suspended flights the same day.

Meanwhile, Russia followed through on its promise to retaliate for Ukrainian drone attacks on the tanker.

Ukraine’s air force reported that Russia launched 70 drones and missiles, including cruise missiles from aircraft over the Caspian Sea and Iranian-made, Shahed-136/131 strike UAVs.

Zelenskyy thanked Western allies for the advanced air defense systems — including the U.S.-built Patriot and Germany's IRIS-T — that were proving "highly effective" and had "already yielded significant results," protecting Ukrainian skies.

He said Ukraine had shot down "a significant part" of Russia's attacks over the past week, including 65 missiles of various kinds, and 178 assault drones, including 87 Shaheds.

However, at least 10 Russian missiles appear to have broken through Ukraine’s air defenses in the overnight attack.

Russian airstrikes targeted a blood transfusion center in the town of Kupiansk in the eastern Kharkiv region late Saturday.

"There are dead and wounded," Zelenskyy said Saturday on his Telegram channel. Kupiansk is a railway hub fewer than 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) from the front line. Zelenskyy said rescue workers were extinguishing a fire at the scene and described the strike as a "war crime."

Zelenskyy did not specify how many casualties there were or whether they were military or civilian.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.