President Cyril Ramaphosa noted the trip was the first time African leaders embarked on a peace mission ‘beyond the shores of the continent’.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praised an African mission to broker peace in Ukraine as “historic” – despite a lukewarm reception by the leaders of warring Russia and Ukraine.
Ramaphosa made the remarks on his return on Monday from talks in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the Russian city of St Petersburg – talks that did not yield any immediate results.
The high-profile delegation of presidents and envoys met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday before flying to Russia to speak with its President Vladimir Putin the next day.
“This initiative has been historic in that it is the first time African leaders have embarked on a peace mission beyond the shores of the continent,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.
He added “one of the key achievements” of the mission “was the positive reception” received from both sides, “which provides cause for optimism that the proposals will be given consideration”.
Both Zelenskyy and Putin have agreed to further engagements, Ramaphosa said.
Voice of the continent
A continental powerhouse, South Africa has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, saying it wants to stay neutral and prefers dialogue to end the war.
The African leaders’ mission brought the voice of a continent that has badly suffered from the repercussions of the Ukraine conflict, particularly with rising grain prices.
It put forward a 10-point proposal, including de-escalation, the recognition of countries’ sovereignty, unimpeded grain exports through the Black Sea, and sending prisoners of war and children back to their countries of origin.
But the principles were deemed “very difficult to implement” by the Kremlin, while Zelenskyy ruled out talks with Moscow as long as Russian troops occupied Ukrainian territory.
The diplomatic team included the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Comoros and Zambia, as well as top officials from Uganda, Egypt and Congo-Brazzaville.