Amherd's interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung daily was published a few hours after Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the United Nations that Bern aimed to hold the conference "by this summer" after the idea was floated in January.

Russia, which started its invasion of Ukraine two years ago, last month called the peace conference plan "pointless" and indicated it would be doomed to fail without Moscow's participation.

When asked whether Switzerland had since received any more positive signals from Russia, Amherd told the newspaper: "Right now, it looks as though Russia will not take part in a first round of the conference.

"We're in the process of starting off with a very broad alliance consisting of the BRICS countries, countries from the Arab world, as well as from the global south."

Amherd said Switzerland hoped to organize the first round by the summer, and that her government knew the summit needed to hold out some prospect of success. "That doesn't mean we'll reach our goal at the first step," she added.

The president did not name specific countries. BRICS members include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

This month foreign minister Cassis said he hoped that China would give Switzerland "a hand" with the peace talks.

Switzerland adopted sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union over Moscow's invasion, raising questions in some quarters about the limits of the country's neutrality.

Earlier this month, the Swiss government announced plans to beef up its military, partly in response to the conflict.

Amherd said Switzerland shared the view that war should not be used to enforce political will, noting: "As a small state, we stand for international law, not the law of the strongest."

(Reporting by Dave Graham; editing by Clelia Oziel)