Although a 42-nation summit hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) last weekend failed to make significant progress on ending the Ukraine War, Saudi Arabia’s and China’s peace efforts sidelined the United States and undermined American leadership in this conflict.
The conference was a major win for MBS, who portrayed himself as a global leader and indispensable peacemaker in the Ukraine War by hosting a dialogue with a large group of nations with different views on the war, many of them neutral.
Russia did not attend the conference and condemned it as "futile" and "doomed."
However, Saudi Arabia portrayed the meeting as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a future peace deal.
There were agreements for a follow-up conference and to create working groups to discuss issues related to the war such as food security, nuclear safety, and prisoner releases.
China’s presence at the conference was a coup for Saudi Arabia and a focus of the meeting.
China, which declined to attend a similar and smaller Ukraine peace conference in Copenhagen last June, praised the Saudi talks, saying they helped "consolidate international consensus" to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Although there was some press speculation that China’s attendance indicated it could be breaking with Russia on the war, China stressed at the conference that it was neutral.
Moreover, the day after the conference, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers discussed the meeting by phone, according to The New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used the Saudi conference to promote his 10-point peace plan.
Some participants reportedly did not support Zelensky’s plan, which calls for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces and Russia returning all Ukrainian territory it has seized, including Crimea.
China raised its 12-point peace plan for the Ukraine war but was rebuffed by European states who said Beijing’s call for an unconditional ceasefire would create a frozen conflict that Russia would use to consolidate its control of Ukrainian territory, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The United States was represented at the Saudi talks by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Sullivan took a back seat at the conference and met briefly with his Chinese counterpart on the margins of the meeting.
Biden Administration officials said little about the conference other than praising China’s participation and claiming the meeting was an opportunity to win support for Zelenskyy’s peace plan.
While the Saudi conference might help promote a future peace deal, the prominent roles played by Saudi Arabia and China, coupled with Sullivan’s weak performance, weakened American leadership on the war and left the United States out of the loop on global efforts to end the conflict.
Given Russia’s good relations with Saudi Arabia and China, this may strengthen Russian President Putin’s ability to ensure that any future peace agreement is to his liking.
Fred Fleitz is a Newsmax TV Contributor. He previously served as National Security Council Chief of staff, CIA analyst, and as a member of the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.