Eighty nations call for ‘territorial integrity’ of Ukraine as basis for peace

Eighty nations call for ‘territorial integrity’ of Ukraine as basis for peace

Eighty countries have jointly called for the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine to be the basis for any peace agreement to end Vladimir Putin’s war and the pledge that Russian occupying forces should withdraw.

The joint communique capped a two-day conference at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland marked by the absence of Russia, which was not invited, but that many attendees hoped could join in on a road map to peace.

Both Ukraine and Russia have laid out their terms — and they are poles apart.

Russia wants what it has seized since February 2022, and a bit more, and a pledge that Ukraine would never join Nato. Kyiv just wants the Russians out, and the country rebuilt.

The Western allies now have a mountain to climb to put together a credible strategy for Ukraine to fight and survive into next year.

More money has been pledged, though Saudi Arabia, UAE and South Africa, main partners of Russia, refused to back the final declaration at the Burgenstock conference.

America is rushing a further five sets of Patriot air defence missile batteries to defend the cities, but the forces are finding it hard to generate adequate reserves and are still short of crucial munitions.

Moreover, three leading Nato nations are involved in major election campaigns, with two, the USA and France, likely to produce governments that will lean more towards Putin’s Russia.

For the third now in a campaign, the UK, the problems are of a different order.

Whoever is voted in at Westminster on July 4 will face the need for an urgent overhaul of its defence policies and the armed forces. The Army in particular needs reform — our closest and most vital ally, the US, is increasingly open that the British Army is not fully fit for Nato’s purpose, and needs rapid upgrade.

Curiously, Russia’s land forces appear to mirror the same dilemma. They are cumbersome, unwieldy in many aspects, and in equipment and thinking on the front line somewhat obsolete — and ill fitted for the age of the drone, electronic warfare and cyber-attacks. Putin has said he wants younger, more innovative commanders, and he is expected imminently to remove the long-term commander in chief Valery Gerasimov.

In recent months Russia has bought in more than 4.4 million artillery shells, shipped in huge rail convoys of containers from North Korea.

Putin himself has boasted that Russia now has over 700,000 troops and personnel “in the area” for the special military operation in Ukraine.

That such large forces have achieved so little in the latest summer offensive, now under way for six weeks across the Ukraine front, makes Putin’s boast seem almost like a confession of failure.