Six African leaders plan to visit Russia and Ukraine to help find a resolution to the war. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the initiative, which was drawn up by Zambia, Senegal, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa. The mission has received “cautious support” in Washington and European capitals. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the African Union have also been briefed on the initiative and welcomed it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have agreed to receive the mission and the African heads of state, in both Moscow and Kyiv. Ramaphosa 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. The conflict has badly hit African countries with rising prices of grain and the impact on world trade.
The announcement came a day after Ramaphosa said South Africa had been under “extraordinary pressure” to pick sides in the conflict. The commander of South Africa’s ground forces was in Moscow to discuss military cooperation on Monday. Last week, the US envoy to Pretoria said that the United States believed weapons and ammunition had been laden onto a Russian freighter that docked at a Cape Town naval base in December. South Africa has refused to condemn the conflict in Ukraine, saying it wants to stay neutral.