Four African leaders arrived in Kyiv on Friday, where their trip was briefly disrupted by a Russian missile attack, and plan to travel to Russia on Saturday in an unusual push to broker peace between countries locked in war for more than a year.
A diplomatic mission involving the leaders of South Africa, Zambia, Comoros and Senegal has drawn interest and skepticism. Many African countries have been at odds with the United States and its allies – seeking to isolate Moscow through economic sanctions – since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and many have refused to condemn Russia’s actions. Russia has worked hard to consolidate its alliances on the continent since the start of the war.
While some analysts have questioned whether the mission will realistically bear fruit, supporters of the various peace initiatives note that the African delegation will first meet with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine.
The leaders, who traveled by train from Poland, met in St. Petersburg with President Vladimir V. Footage was shared of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arriving at a train station in Kyiv and being greeted by Ukrainian officials. On the official Twitter account of the President Friday morning.
In the video released while the air raid alert was still active in the capital, South African President’s office spokesman Vincent Makwenya said Mr. Ramaphosa said he was “certainly here”.
The South African president visited Bucha, a suburb of Bucha, where The New York Times and others have documented Russian atrocities since Moscow’s invasion, and Mr. They waited until negotiations with Zelensky began.
The stakes of war are particularly high for Africa, which has seen critical supply chains, particularly for agricultural goods, disrupted by the fighting.
“You all know that Africa has been hit hard by this conflict in terms of food insecurity, price of grains, price of fertiliser,” said Mr. Makwenya said, “But equally, this work is helping to find a path to peace. The suffering of the people in Ukraine.
Last month, Mr. The peace initiative was announced by Ramaphosa. South African officials have denied the claim.
More than a dozen African countries abstained from a United Nations vote condemning Russia or calling for its withdrawal from Ukraine, with a handful voting in favor of Russia.
South Africa and other countries on the continent were adamant that it was best to take a neutral position in the war, saying that they could make the situation better by trying to make peace.
The presidents of the Republic of Congo, Egypt and Uganda had also planned to travel to Ukraine but would send representatives instead, a South African presidential spokesman told News 24, the South African news agency, although there was no explanation.
The delegation was organized in part by Jean-Yves Ollivier, a wealthy French businessman with a decades-long history of peace negotiations for countries across Africa.
Mr. Olivier told several news outlets that the delegation came about through conversations he had with heads of state in several African countries he is close to. Mr. Zelensky and Mr. He said the first order of business in talks with Putin would be discussing possible prisoner transfers and strengthening agreements allowing fertilizer exports from Russia.
In An article in Newsweek“This work can be progressed by starting a dialogue on topics of interest to both countries and, initially, will not directly affect the military situation on the ground,” he said.
“And there will be a layer of conversations,” he added. “We hope that from this conversation, it will lead to other issues and at least open up the possibility of a solution.”
Megan Specia Report contributed from Lviv, Ukraine.
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