Delegates from approximately 90 countries across the world met in Burgenstock, Switzerland on June 15-16 to attend the Summit on Peace in Ukraine. According to the BBC, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hoped to use the summit to “battle [Russia’s] full-scale invasion with full-scale diplomacy and get as broad support as possible for a peace plan shaped by Ukraine.” The BBC further reported that on the eve of the summit, Putin stated clearly that he had no intention to withdraw his troops from Ukraine, setting up a counter “peace proposal” that “amounted to a call for Ukraine’s capitulation.”

Russia was not invited to participate in the summit. China, Russia’s closest ally, and Pakistan were invited but both chose not to attend. Of the countries represented at the summit, eight refused to sign on to the communique that was issued at the end of the conference. Among them were the usual suspects: Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. The nations that did not back the communique gave a variety of reasons for withholding their support. A few of them cited Russia’s absence. In South Africa’s case, it was unhappiness about the presence of Israel. One South African delegate is said to have issued a statement ‘questioning the legitimacy of a communique that its sponsors argued was driven by “respect for international law” when Israel has been accused by many UN officials of violating international law.’

The lies and hypocrisy of these people are quite disorienting. In the period from March 2022 to February 2023, there were six major U.N. General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. South Africa did not vote in favor of a single one of them. The last of those votes was taken eight months before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that triggered the current Israel-Hamas war. What was South Africa’s justification for voting against all those U.N. motions?

The South Africans pretend not to notice that Russia has been sitting inside the U.N. Security Council chamber throughout the last couple of years participating in proceedings, as if it were a normal country, while its forces commit war crimes in Ukraine. Those atrocities have prompted the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant for the arrest of Vladimir Putin. Why does South Africa seem so unbothered by Russia’s war crimes, while at the same time saying that it doesn’t want to be in a room with Israel because it is a violator of international law?

It has been abundantly clear since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war that, with the exception of the West and its allies, most countries, particularly those in the Global South, consider the conflict none of their business. In fact, they blame the West for causing it, and will continue to make excuses for Putin. So why do Western leaders keep wasting so much time and energy calling for these votes at the U.N.? Likewise, President Zelensky should know by now that he is never going to convince any of these countries to back Ukraine.

When leaders of the day understood the maximalist goals of Hitler in the late 1930s, they realized that no amount of compromising would satisfy him. It dawned on them that they needed to focus their minds and resources on defeating him on the battlefield. Putin may not be Hitler, but he has a fixed position: either Ukrainians do what he wants, or he will kill them and destroy their country. That is not someone to be negotiated with.

This is no time to be running beauty contests at the U.N. and elsewhere to determine which country is more popular, Ukraine or Russia. After all, it is not as if those Global South countries being courted have any money or military equipment to contribute to the war effort in Ukraine. If they did, or had their way, most would likely aid Russia anyway. Taken together, this entire dance seems to be in pursuit of bragging rights. Putin is a tyrant who doesn’t care about the number of votes people cast against him in any venue. The sooner Western leaders, their allies, and the Ukrainians realize this, the better.