Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky have both consented to separate meetings with a delegation of African heads of state to discuss a potential strategy to end the war in Ukraine, according to Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa.
Over the weekend, Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on the phone with his colleagues in Russia and Ukraine, according to a representative of his office. ‘An African leaders’ peace mission’ will be hosted in Moscow and Kyiv, respectively.
The president said that Mr. Ramaphosa would be accompanied on the journey by the presidents of Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda, and Egypt. He stated that he had received permission to “commence the preparations” from both Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky.
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.