China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning has agreed to attend next month's Ukrainian peace conference in Switzerland with one proviso, that Russia be invited. Mao said that Beijing supports the "timely convening of an international peace conference that is recognized by both the Russian and Ukrainian sides."

That sounds reasonable, after all, one would expect that peace negotiations would include the representatives of the warring parties. But that is not the case here. And while more than 90 countries have confirmed that they will attend the upcoming meetings, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has excluded the one nation whose presence might make a difference. Russia.

Naturally, many analysts are puzzled by Zelensky's omission which precludes any possible settlement or end to the hostilities. Simply put, the fighting will continue until Russia and Ukraine conduct bilateral negotiations and reach an agreement.

So, what is going on here?

What's going on is that Zelensky is perpetrating a fraud. Clearly, there is no intention to strike a deal with Russia or to end the fighting. How could there be, after all, Russia wasn't invited. So, we must assume that the peace conference will be used for some other purpose, like demonizing Putin or drumming up more support for the war.

What that tells us is that neither Zelensky nor his handlers in Washington have abandoned the idea of inflicting a strategic defeat on Russia. They're not throwing in the towel and they're certainly not looking for areas of mutual compromise. No. They're merely exploring more creative ways of garnering support for their failed crusade. That's what the so-called 'peace conference' is all about, luring more recruits to the Ukraine bandwagon.

We should mention, however, that Russia knows exactly what Zelensky is up-to and has no illusions about where all this is headed. Check out this short clip from an interview with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov:
The Swiss conference is being convened with the sole purpose of addressing Zelensky's peace formula in the form of an ultimatum. It is not accidental that the Swiss themselves, including Swiss diplomats, are saying that the conference will focus not on "building bridges" for peace, but on supporting Ukraine.

Josep Borrel said the peace formula was the only initiative under discussion. (Note: Other peace initiatives by China, Brazil, and the Arab League are all being ignored.)

We have access to information that is not normally intended for public use. In late April, discussing the Swiss conference with foreign ambassadors in Kiev... Zelensky spent most of the time rambling almost hysterically and incoherently, and pleading for support for his peace formula as a means of forcing Russia on its knees. Whenever a person does not feel the need to control themselves, they tend to speak the truth. Those who are now being courted and pressed into coming to Switzerland, creating a crowd, and posing for a "family photo" in order to be able to then bloviate about broad-based support for Zelensky's peace formula, should be aware of the place they are being lured into. They are expected to support an ultimatum that will then be presented to Russia. This is ridiculous.

President Vladimir Putin spoke about this quite recently. These games, just like other foreign policy moves by our Western partners who have lost their diplomatic skills, have nothing to do with diplomacy. Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister Press Conference, ru
So, the Russians aren't taken in by this nonsense, they know it's a scam. They also know that the whole thing was probably concocted by the Intel agencies in concert with their media consultants. Just like they know the meetings will probably be used to shore up Zelensky's tattered image while, once again, dragging Russia through the mud. We've seen it all before. But the reality is that the more time that's wasted on these public relations fiascos, the more the carnage piles up on battlefields in the East. And that's the real tragedy, that Zelensky continues to play these stupid games while his countrymen are slaughtered in droves for no apparent reason. Maybe he should stop the performance art long enough to fix the problem? Maybe he should think seriously about peace?

Is that possible?

It is possible.

Imagine for a minute, if Zelensky was sincere in wanting to end the war. How much effort and sacrifice would it really take?

Not much. Yes, he would be opposed by Washington and by the far-right uber-nationalists in his government, but the actual price he would pay in terms of blood and treasure would be negligible. True, he'll never recapture Crimea or the Donbas (roughly 20% of Ukraine's former landmass) but that's the price of waging a two year-long war with Russia. Putin can't be blamed for that. (Remember, Zelensky was prepared to sign a peace agreement with Putin one month into the war, but Boris Johnson scotched the deal.) In any event, those territories are gone forever. The point is to salvage what is left of Ukraine before its borders shrink even more. This is what Zelensky should be focused on; preserving what's left of his country while he still can. The longer the war drags on, the more likely Ukraine will either be partitioned or transformed into an uninhabitable wasteland. The time to act is now.

The good news is that Putin is ready to deal. Despite the misinformation in the West, he wants to put this mess behind him. He wants to end the war.

And Putin's demands are not unreasonable. He just wants assurances about Russia's security, which means he won't allow NATO missile-sites on his western border. That is a demand that Zelensky can meet at no cost to himself.

What else does Putin want?

This may surprise you, but the deal Putin seeks with Zelensky can be reduced to just one word: Neutrality. Ukraine must be a neutral state which means that it must not become a member of a major military bloc like NATO, because NATO is a hostile, anti-Russian, military alliance that has prosecuted wars of aggression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. It is a menace that must be prevented from putting its bases, combat troops or weapons systems on Russia's border. Period. Just as the United States would never allow China to place missile systems on Mexico's northern border, NATO cannot be allowed to place Washington's missiles on Russia's border. It's the same thing.

Zelensky believes that Ukraine 'has the right' to make whatever security arrangements it thinks best serve its national interests. That sounds like a reasonable proposition, but it's not. Because in practical terms, Ukraine's determination to join NATO has made Ukraine less safe, in fact, the probability of Ukraine's membership in NATO has brought the country to the brink of annihilation. So, if Zelensky's intention was to increase Ukraine's national security, then he has compelling proof that he made the wrong decision.

Here's a good rule of thumb for any smaller and less powerful nation that shares a border with a nuclear superpower: Don't do things that scare your neighbor. Do not do things that make your neighbor feel threatened. And โ€” most of all โ€” do not threaten to join hostile anti-Russian alliances that regularly express their deeply-felt contempt and loathing for Russia. That is the fast-track to annihilation. If Zelensky did not know that before, he should certainly know it by now. Check out this excerpt from an article at Geopolitical Monitor:
Ukraine is not exactly a stranger when it comes to the notion of neutrality. In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, the country expressed an intention in its declaration of state sovereignty of 1 July 1990 to become a permanently neutral state that would shun participation in military blocs and show a commitment to denuclearization. This largely nonaligned status resulted in a vacillating foreign policy, which nonetheless appeared to be conducive to the pursuit of amicable relations with both the European Union (EU) and Russia, before being ultimately abandoned in December 2014 in the aftermath of Russia's annexation of Crimea and the start of the Donbas war. In February 2019, with the overwhelming approval of the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament of Ukraine), the Ukrainian constitution was amended, setting the country on a course toward full membership in the EU and NATO. Nonetheless, in late March 2022 Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was still prepared to discuss the possibility of Ukraine taking a neutral position as part of a potential peace deal with Russia to halt the invasion. A Neutral Ukraine Is Not the Answer, Geopolitical Monitor
Let's review: When Ukraine made its declaration of state sovereignty in July 1990, it pledged to be "a permanently neutral state." And while it remained committed to that neutral status there was no hostility between Moscow and Kiev. But as soon as the United States toppled Ukraine's government in the 2014 coup, Ukraine moved to renounce its neutrality, which is when all their problems began. What's clear is that independent Ukrainian leaders did not choose to abandon neutrality. That decision was made in Washington by neocons who wanted to move their globalist army closer to Russia's border. This isn't speculation, this is what happened. NATO lied about 'not moving one inch east" after the reunification of Germany and continued to push eastward until they were right on Russia 's doorstep. Finally โ€” after being shoved into a corner โ€” Russia pursued the only option available and pushed back. Russia launched its Special Military Operation (SMO) on February 24, 2022.

Of course, many people still think that Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet empire and that Ukraine is just the first step in a long march across Europe. Fortunately, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg dispelled that fiction in a press conference in September, 2023. Here's what he said:
"President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine. Of course we didn't sign that.

"The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second class membership. We rejected that.

"So he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite. He has got more NATO presence in eastern part of the Alliance and he has also seen that Finland has already joined the Alliance and Sweden will soon be a full member.

"This is this is good for the Nordic countries. It's good for Finland and Sweden. And it's also good for NATO. And it demonstrates that when President Putin invaded a European country to prevent more NATO, he's getting the exact opposite." Putin invaded Ukraine to stop NATO, says NATO chief, YouTube

So, Putin did not go to war to rebuild the Soviet empire. He went to war to prevent a hostile, anti-Russia, military coalition from plopping itself on his border where their missiles could strike Moscow in less than 7 minutes.

Was that unreasonable of him?

Of course, not. He was simply acting is his country's best interests on a matter of critical (existential) importance. Check out this short 1-minute video of John Mearsheimer who makes the same point:
"... Let me put it differently, Ukraine โ€” according to its Constitution and its Declaration of Sovereignty in 1990 โ€” was a neutral country. It abandoned neutrality in December 2014. Just think about that. So, if we had left it alone, Ukraine would be intact today including Crimea. (And) all these dead people would not be dead." John Mearsheimer, Would Neutrality Have Prevented the War, You Tube
For Zelensky, the choice could not be clearer. Ukraine is either going to be neutral or it's going to be obliterated. The choice is his to make. But one thing is certain, Russia is not going to live with a gun to its head. We know that now.