By Editor–June 18th, 2023.
A group of leaders of African countries led byCyril Ramaphosa of South Africa have traveled to Russia on a self-styled “peace mission” the day after they went to Ukraine, but the meeting with Russian Presidend Vladimir Putin has ended with no significant progress to report.
The seven African leaders also visited Ukraine on Friday to try to help end the nearly 16-month-old war.
The African leaders then traveled to St. Petersburg on Saturday to meet with Putin who was at Russia’s showpiece international economic forum.
There is little information available about the details of the proposals of the African group, which apparently has not been written down.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the three-hour meeting that the Africans’ peace plan consisted of 10 elements, but “was not formulated on paper.”
“The peace initiative proposed by African countries is very difficult to implement, difficult to compare positions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. But ”President Putin has shown interest in considering it.”
“He spoke about our position. Not all provisions can be correlated with the main elements of our position, but this does not mean that we do not need to continue working,” Peskov said.
“The main conclusion, in my opinion, from today’s conversation is that our partners from the African Union have shown an understanding of the true causes of the crisis that was created by the West, and have shown an understanding that it is necessary to get out of this situation on the basis of addressing these underlying causes,” Lavrov said.
Russia says that it was effectively forced to send troops into Ukraine because it was threatened by Ukraine’s desire to join NATO and by the country’s support from the United States and Western Europe.
The mission to Ukraine, the first of its kind by African leaders, comes in the wake of other peace initiatives — such as one by China — and carries particular importance for Africa, which relies on food and fertilizer deliveries from Russia and Ukraine. The war has impeded exports from one of the world’s most important breadbaskets.
“This conflict is affecting Africa negatively,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at a news conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and four other African leaders after their closed-door talks on Friday.
Ramaphosa and others acknowledged the intensity of the hostilities but insisted all wars must come to an end and emphasized their willingness to help expedite that.