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As Fighting Rages, Ukraine Takes Its Battle to the Diplomatic Arena

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Dozens of countries met for a second day on Sunday at a forum in Malta intended to rally support for Ukraine and to encourage countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia that have taken a neutral stance in the conflict there not to side with Russia.

Countries sent national security advisers to the Ukraine Peace Forum, the third round of talks based on the country’s proposed 10-point settlement for the war, called the Peace Formula, which calls for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces, an end of hostilities and reparations.

Russia was not invited to the forum, reflecting the lack of appetite from Moscow or Kyiv for peace talks — the idea is anathema to Ukraine while Russian forces occupy part of its territory.

For its part, Moscow considers itself to have annexed five of Ukraine’s regions, and while that decision has been condemned internationally as illegal, Russia would consider retention of that land a prerequisite to any peace settlement.

Even as Ukraine battles to regain territory on the backfield, it is also pursuing an international consensus around its cause, and the forum provided an opportunity to advance its diplomatic position.

It is a “fundamentally important first goal” to rally international support, Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, said in an interview from the talks, which are being held behind closed doors. Another goal, he said, is “to prevent possible sliding toward Russia.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an overnight speech that 66 countries had attended the forum, which Malta’s foreign ministry said it had organized at Ukraine’s request. Mr. Zelesnky called the turnout a “good result.”

It was not possible to confirm the figure independently, but representatives from Ukraine’s allies including the United States, Britain and European Union countries attended, along with India, Brazil and South Africa.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has dismissed the gathering in Malta without Russian participation as “counterproductive” to a settlement and said it was “a blatantly anti-Russian event.”

The forum came at a difficult moment for the Ukrainian government. The war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has lowered the profile of the conflict in Ukraine, and a counteroffensive launched by the country in June is yet to achieve its central objectives of retaking substantial territory in the east and south.

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