Biden Set to Skip Ukraine Peace Summit for Hollywood Fundraiser

President Joe Biden will likely miss a Ukraine peace summit next month because it conflicts with a campaign fundraiser in California he’s set to attend alongside George Clooney, Julia Roberts and other stars.

Bloomberg
First Published23 May 2024
Biden Set to Skip Ukraine Peace Summit for Hollywood Fundraiser
Biden Set to Skip Ukraine Peace Summit for Hollywood Fundraiser

President Joe Biden will likely miss a Ukraine peace summit next month because it conflicts with a campaign fundraiser in California he’s set to attend alongside George Clooney, Julia Roberts and other stars.

Switzerland scheduled the conference for June 15-16, after a meeting of Group of Seven in Italy. Several G-7 leaders plan to join but neither Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to be there, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing private deliberations. President Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited and leaders from other nations are also planning to skip.

Biden is scheduled to fly from the G-7 meeting in southern Italy to Los Angeles for the June 15 fundraiser. Along with Clooney and Roberts, former President Barack Obama and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel are set to join him. 

The decision underscores how Biden is further shifting into campaign mode as he looks to overcome former President Donald Trump’s polling lead in key swing states ahead of the November election. Adding to the urgency, Trump eclipsed Biden’s fundraising efforts for the first time in the current election cycle last month, raising $76 million to his $51 million.

It also reflects a broader pessimism about the conference, which Switzerland agreed to organize when President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the country in January. Still, about 70 countries will take part in the summit at some level including major leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while , Japanese Premier Fumio Kishida is likely to be there too. 

However, the absence of China is likely to disappoint Zelenskiy. Beijing has long been seen as crucial to the process given its close relationship with Moscow, but it has so far skipped most meetings leading up to the summit.

China and several other nations in the so-called Global South have pushed for Russia to be involved in the process. Ukraine and its allies don’t want to engage with Moscow until a set of principles that would define any future peace settlement are broadly agreed. The Swiss summit was originally envisioned as a first step toward that aim.

Diplomats organizing the conference winnowed down its ambitions to focus on a narrow set of goals, such as nuclear safety and prisoner exchanges, in a bid to broaden participation. Those points fall short of Ukraine’s blueprint for peace, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops as well as future security guarantees.

Russia is also pushing nations in Asia, Africa and South America to stay away from the conference. President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other officials met and called counterparts from dozens of countries, from India to tiny Comoros, with the apparent aim of deterring participation in the Swiss conference, according to a diplomatic memo seen by Bloomberg.

Lavrov has also reached out to ambassadors in Moscow with the same goal, according to the memo, and a meeting of foreign ministers from the so-called BRICS countries and their allies on June 10-11 should seal that effort. 

Zelenskiy on Thursday described Moscow’s efforts to scupper the summit as “the key goal for Russian diplomacy and foreign intelligence for the nearest future.”

With assistance from Alberto Nardelli, Daryna Krasnolutska and Hadriana Lowenkron.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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