South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa announces that Putin and Zelensky have ‘agreed to meet African leaders to discuss peace plan’

South Africa

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky have both agreed to separate meetings with a delegation of African heads of state to discuss a possible plan to end the war in Ukraine.

Cyril Ramaphosa spoke with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts by phone over the weekend, a spokesperson for his office said. They agreed to host ‘an African leaders’ peace mission’ in Moscow and Kyiv respectively.

The leaders of Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda, and Egypt plan to join Mr Ramaphosa on the mission, the president said. He added that Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky gave him the go-ahead to ‘commence the preparations’.

More details about the peace talks were not disclosed, but Mr. Zelensky has previously said he would not consider a peace deal to end the 15-month war until Russian forces withdraw fully from Ukrainian territory.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres was briefed on the African delegation’s planned meetings and ‘welcomed the initiative’, Mr. Ramaphosa said.

‘I agreed with both President Putin and President Zelensky to commence with preparations for engagements with the African heads of state,’ the South African leader said, speaking at a press conference in Cape Town during a state visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

‘We’re hoping we will have intensive discussions.’

Ramaphosa said the African leaders have been talking and consulting in recent months on how the continent can facilitate the end of the war.

‘This we have been talking about as African leaders, because we concluded that conflict in that part of the world, that much as it does not affect Africa directly in the form of deaths and destruction to our infrastructure, it does have an impact on the lives of many Africans with regards to food security. Prices of fertiliser, cereals and fuel have gone up,’ he said.

‘Facilitated by the Brazzaville Foundation, we have been able to have these discussions, and principal to our discussions are efforts towards a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict in the Ukraine, its cost in human lives, and the impact on the African continent.’

Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year and the war has continued since then.   Ukraine is expected to start a counteroffensive soon to try to take back land occupied by Russia and push Putin’s forces back east.

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