A delegation of African heads of state and senior officials convened in St. Petersburg on Saturday with the aim of mediating an end to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the delegation included leaders from Senegal, Zambia, Comoros, and representatives from Egypt, Uganda, and the Republic of Congo.
The meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin followed the delegation’s visit to Kyiv on Friday, where they engaged in talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The African leaders expressed their conviction that it is time for both sides to initiate negotiations and put an end to the devastating conflict.
During the discussions, President Ramaphosa outlined ten key points to facilitate a resolution, including de-escalation measures by both parties, diplomatic negotiations, and the recognition of state sovereignty in accordance with the UN Charter. He also emphasized the need to reopen the Black Sea for grain exports, a prisoner of war exchange, and post-war reconstruction efforts.
The delegation’s visit underscores the significant impact of the Ukraine war on African nations, particularly in relation to soaring grain prices. South Africa’s official statement acknowledged the economic devastation, loss of life, and global instability caused by the 16-month-long conflict. The leaders from the African countries expressed their collective desire to find a peaceful resolution and mitigate the adverse consequences faced by their respective nations.
However, the peace mission faced challenges during their visit to Ukraine, as the delegation experienced explosions and had to seek shelter due to Russian airstrikes in the capital. While President Ramaphosa insisted on the importance of peace through negotiations, President Zelenskiy maintained that peace talks could only occur after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.
Following the meeting with President Putin, no visible progress was reported. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed that the African delegation presented a peace plan consisting of ten elements, although it had not been formally formulated on paper. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged the difficulties in implementing the proposed peace initiative but stated that President Putin showed interest in considering it.