South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed a clear message to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The message on Saturday emphasized the urgent need to halt the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.
Ramaphosa’s delegation, representing seven African countries, presented a set of principles aimed at resolving the conflict, which the Kremlin deemed challenging to implement.
The delegation’s visit brought attention to the repercussions of the Ukraine conflict on the African continent, particularly the impact on rising grain prices.
Ramaphosa stressed the importance of settling the war through negotiations and diplomatic means during talks held in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg.
He further expressed the delegation’s desire for an end to the war and listed ten principles, including de-escalation, respect for countries’ sovereignty, security guarantees for all nations, unimpeded grain exports through the Black Sea, and the repatriation of prisoners of war and children to their home countries.
While the Kremlin acknowledged the difficulty of implementing any initiative, spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that President Putin showed interest in considering the principles discussed during the closed-door meeting with the African delegation.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that “the plan was not officially formulated on paper. Putin commended the delegation’s balanced approach and expressed his openness to constructive dialogue with parties interested in pursuing peace based on justice and respect for legitimate interests.”
Despite the divisions among African countries regarding their response to the conflict, the mission aimed to secure concessions and mitigate the negative impact of the war.
Analysts have cautioned that achieving concrete peace may be challenging, as both Kyiv and Moscow remain convinced of their potential victory on the battlefield. While Ukraine claimed tactical success in various areas, Russia maintained that it had repelled all assaults.
In addition to peace efforts, the delegation sought to address the global consequences of the war, particularly the impact on the African continent.
Ramaphosa highlighted “the adverse effects of the conflict and expressed concern during formal talks with Putin. The delegation’s goals included securing the viability of a deal enabling Ukrainian grain exports to reach the global market.”
Putin, however, refuted the notion that the crisis on the global food market was a consequence of the Ukraine conflict, dismissing the importance of grain shipments in solving poverty and hunger issues.
During the discussions, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the African leaders to prioritize the release of political prisoners.
In response, Putin expressed readiness to continue the process of prisoner exchange. Meanwhile, in the devastated areas of Ukraine affected by flooding due to a dam destruction, revised death tolls were announced by Russian and Ukrainian officials. The situation in Ukraine remains precarious, with the threat of air strikes looming across the country.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden reiterated that Ukraine would need to meet the same standards as other NATO members, making it clear that the United States would not provide special arrangements for Ukraine’s accession to the military alliance.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to gather investors and businesses at a summit in London next week to rally support for Ukraine’s recovery efforts and acknowledge the country’s bravery on the battlefield.
Source: Agence France-Presse/SGP