African leaders on peace mission to Russia have experienced what people in the country and Ukraine have faced for over one year now.
They had first visited Ukraine, but shortly after their arrival, air raid sirens wailed across the country, as Russian missiles were identified, forcing the delegates to seek refuge in the capital.
On Saturday, a high-level African delegation met with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
The meeting was held in the northwestern Russian city of Saint Petersburg, a day after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart.
After the talks at the government’s Konstantinovsky Palace, Putin spoke about the meeting.
Open To Constructive Dialogue
He welcomed what he called “a balanced stance” on the conflict in Ukraine, expressed by the members of the delegation.
Basically, a number of African countries have not spoken up against Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to Putin, Moscow is “open to a constructive dialogue with all those who want peace based on the principles of justice and consideration of the legitimate interests of the parties”.
He also told the delegates, without evidence, that the current crisis on the global food market, which has had a large impact on Africa, was not a consequence of the conflict in Ukraine.
Also, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the delegation recognised the sovereignty of countries in terms of the UN charter, but that it at the same time respected positions put forward by both sides.
This meeting occurred a day after Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, spurned its demands for negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
On Friday, the diplomatic team traveled to Kyiv to express the concerns of a continent that has suffered as a result of Russia’s invasion.
Grain prices rose as a result, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa maintaining that “peace should be achieved through negotiations.”
In a joint press conference with the delegates, Zelensky, however, ruled out the notion.
Freezing The War
“I clearly stated several times during our meeting that allowing any negotiations with Russia now that the occupier is on our land means freezing the war, freezing pain and suffering,” he said.
Shortly after the arrival of the African leaders, air raid sirens wailed across the country as Russian missiles were identified, forcing the delegates to seek refuge in the capital.
According to Zelensky, the attack on Kyiv during the delegation’s visit demonstrated that Putin either did not control his forces or was “irrational.”
Ramaphosa, on the other hand, saw the barrage as proof that both sides ought to halt fighting.
“It is precisely that type of event that we witnessed today… that compels us to call for de-escalation,” Ramaphosa stated, citing Nelson Mandela multiple times on the need of peace.
Zelensky said in a statement that he had asked the leaders to express their opinions on how to end the “crimes committed by Russia” and strive toward food security.
“But first and foremost, we must restore the full force of the UN Charter, put an end to Russia’s brutal aggression, and liberate our land,” he continued.
“This conflict is also having a negative impact on African countries, affecting the livelihoods of 1.2 or 1.3 billion people on the African continent,” Ramaphosa added.
African countries have been divided in their approach to the conflict, with some standing with Ukraine and others remaining neutral or leaning toward Moscow.
South Africa, for example, has come under fire for refusing to criticize Moscow’s attack.