The large African peace delegation led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Ramaphosa asked Ukraine and Russia to “settle the war” through dialogue and diplomacy.
The African peace mission includes the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Comoros and Zambia, and top officials from Uganda, Egypt, and Congo-Brazzaville. The African nations, just like many parts of Asia, have been bearing the economic brunt of the war, with commodity prices going up and up.
Moreover, a Bloomberg report said that a lot was at stake here for Ramaphosa, who needed to score a big diplomatic win after being branded pro-Russia and being treated with great suspicion by the United States, hurting the South African economy.
During these meetings, Ramaphosa had mixed success. According to Agence France-Presse, while Zelenskyy has reportedly ruled out talks until his country can take back the territories captured by Russia, Putin reportedly “has shown an interest” in considering the African peace mission’s initiative. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said that “any initiative is very difficult to implement”.
Even though Russia has the upper hand militarily, its invasion of Ukraine has gone on for nearly 16 months now. The smaller nation has been able to hold out far longer than anticipated, and it has also launched its counteroffensive with military equipment supplied by NATO allies, so the war is not likely to be over anytime soon.
With no end in sight, Ramaphosa has taken his proposal right to the parties at conflict, highlighting the impact of the war outside the war zone. “This war must be settled… through negotiations and through diplomatic means,” he said during talks with Putin in St Petersburg. Just before that, Ramaphosa had said, “This war is having a negative impact on the African continent and, indeed, on many other countries around the world.”
The 10 principles listed by the African peace mission include de-escalation of the conflict; the recognition of all countries’ sovereignty; security guarantees for all countries; unhindered grain exports through the Black Sea; and releasing prisoners of war and children, letting them go home.
Reportedly, Putin praised the African delegation’s “balanced” perspective and declared that he was “open to a constructive dialogue with all those who want to implement peace based on the principles of justice and respect for the parties’ legitimate interests”.
However, Ukraine will not talk until its captured territories are given back, and Russia is not ready to give back what it has captured. That makes it a stalemate as of now.