Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin have both agreed to separate meetings with a group of African heads of state to explore a potential strategy to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on the phone over the weekend 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.
Ramaphosa would be accompanied on the journey by the presidents of Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda, and Egypt. He said that he had been given the go-ahead to “commence the preparations” by Mr. Putin and Mr. Zelensky.
On the potential parameters of the negotiations, no information was given. Zelensky has previously stated that until Russian forces have completely left Ukrainian land, he will not entertain a peace agreement to end the 15-month conflict.
According to Mr. Ramaphosa, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was informed of the meetings the African delegation planned to attend and “welcomed the initiative.”
Of the leaders due to meet with Mr Ramaphosa, Zambia and Congo lean to support the west. Senegal and Uganda are more Russia-leaning. Egypt has sought a balanced position on the conflict.
‘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 added.
He did not give a specific timeline for the visit or other details, saying only that the conflict had been ‘devastating’ and Africa ‘is also suffering a great deal’ from it.
African countries have been badly hit by rising prices of grain and by the impact to world trade attributed to the war.