African Delegation Meets Putin, Calls for Negotiated Peace in Ukraine

news 18-Jun-2023 Europe

A high-level delegation of African governments headed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Although the meeting was held under the auspices of the local economic forum, the focus was mainly on the war in Ukraine.

"This war must end," Ramaphosa demanded at the meeting. "It must be resolved through negotiations and with diplomatic means." The African states are directly affected by the war, which has been going on for 16 months, as many are dependent on grain and fertilizer supplies from Ukraine and Russia to feed their populations. Any increase in food prices hits poor people particularly hard.

According to Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine will not be renewed. In the current circumstances, the agreement has no chance, he told "Iswestija". Putin told the African delegation that the grain agreement would not solve African countries' problems with high global food prices.

Putin praised the "balanced approach of African friends in the Ukraine crisis." At the same time, he expressed openness to "constructive dialogue with all those who want to create peace based on the principles of justice and respect for the legitimate interests of the parties."

The delegation's trip is an important signal to the Moscow government that Russia is not isolated in the world. Cooperation has already been intensified in some African countries. For example, a joint naval exercise was held with China and South Africa at the beginning of the year, which was followed with concern by some Western governments.

The delegation describes its trip as a peace mission. It includes the heads of state of South Africa, Zambia, Senegal, the Comoros, the Egyptian prime minister, and senior envoys from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

In Africa, there are different official evaluations of the Russia-Ukraine war. South Africa, Senegal, and Uganda are reluctant to criticize Moscow. In contrast, Egypt, Zambia, and the Comoros voted against Russia in a resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine. Many African countries have close ties to Moscow dating back to the Cold War.

Before their trip to Russia, the delegation visited Ukraine. In Kyiv, they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj and called on both sides to "de-escalate." Missed opportunities were also highlighted. In a press conference, Selenskyj contradicted the idea of a "roadmap" for peace put forward by Comorian President Assoumani. Selenskyj emphasized that he did not want any surprises when the delegation met with Putin. The delegation should ask Russia to release political prisoners from the Crimean peninsula that it illegally annexed in 2014.

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