South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Tuesday that six African leaders would visit Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible” to find a solution to the war.
Mr Ramaphosa said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “agreed to host delegations and African heads of state in both Moscow and Kiev”.
Ramaphosa said he had “individual phone calls” with Putin and Zelensky over the weekend, presenting initiatives drawn up by Zambia, Senegal, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa.
“I have agreed with President Putin and President Zelensky to begin preparations for engagement with African heads of state,” Ramaphosa said.
“I hope we can have an intensive discussion,” he said at a press conference in Cape Town during Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s state visit.
Ramaphosa added that UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the African Union (AU) have been briefed on and welcome the initiative.
Ramaphosa did not give a specific date or other details about the visit, saying only that the conflict was “devastating” and that Africa was “extremely affected” by its effects.
African countries have been hit hard by high grain prices and the impact on world trade.
The announcement came after President Ramaphosa said South Africa was under “unusual pressure” to choose sides in the conflict, following US accusations that Pretoria had supplied Moscow with arms. It was done the next day, but this would be an act that violates professed neutrality.
~ “Polite support” ~
The mission is the latest in a series of so far unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to quell the war.
A Chinese envoy was due to arrive in Kiev on Tuesday for a two-day visit to facilitate China-led peace talks.
Mr Guterres told a Spanish newspaper last week that peace talks were “impossible at the moment” and that both sides “are confident they can win”.
But Mr Ramaphosa said the African effort had gained “cautious support” in Washington and in many European capitals visited by “caretakers” tasked with presenting the plans.
The effort could help Pretoria restore its image as a neutral player and mediator following accusations of leaning towards Russia.
In the latest in a string of incidents that critics cite as evidence of a leaning toward the Kremlin, the South African ground forces commander was in Moscow on Monday to discuss military cooperation.
Last week, the U.S. special envoy to Pretoria said the U.S. believed weapons and ammunition were on board a Russian cargo ship docked at the Cape Town naval base in December.
– rants and bubblegum –
On Tuesday, South Africa’s Defense Minister Thandi Modise denied the accusations in an interview with local newspaper The Mail and Guardian.
“Everyone now recognizes South Africa as a ghastly existence. I can say with certainty that we did not send Fokol or even a piece of Chappie to Russia,” said a local bubblegum fan. brand, she said, using abusive Afrikaans connotations. “there is nothing”.
President Ramaphosa said on Monday that despite facing “extraordinary pressures” South Africa would not be embroiled in a “fight between world powers”.
South Africa has said it wants to remain neutral, refusing to denounce the Ukraine conflict that has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage.
In a veiled criticism of his stance Tuesday, Singapore’s Lee said it was a matter of principle to condemn Russia’s aggression.
“One country cannot invade another with impunity … it must show clear disapproval,” he said at a press conference in Cape Town, on either side of President Ramaphosa.
“We remain friends with Russia, but we cannot approve of what has been done.”
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/african-nations-to-send-peace-mission-to-ukraine-russia/news-story/f771f2e95df06073fe500dff41ea2058 African nations to send peace missions to Ukraine and Russia