Putin to African leaders: We value your stance on Ukraine, open for dialogue
Ramaphosa is part of delegation meeting with Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin told African leaders on Saturday that Russia welcomed their balanced approach to the conflict in Ukraine and was open to discussions.
“We are 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,” Putin said.
African leaders are hoping to mediate over the war in Ukraine. They touched down in St Petersburg on Saturday afternoon.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said after meeting the leaders in Kyiv on Friday that peace talks with Russia would be possible only after Moscow withdrew its forces from occupied Ukrainian territory.
He added that he could not understand what could be gained from the delegation meeting Putin.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Kyiv that the leaders had come “to share the African perspective” and saw talks with Russia as part of the mission.
The leaders from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Congo Republic and the Comoro islands as well as SA were meeting Putin at the government’s 18th-century Konstantinovsky Palace, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.
Television footage showed them shaking hands with Putin and then being welcomed into a room with a circular conference table.
The African leaders are seeking agreement on a series of “confidence building measures” even as Ukraine last week began a counteroffensive to push back Russian forces from Ukrainian territory they occupy.
The Kremlin has played down the chances of meaningful talks with Kyiv. It says conditions for a peace process are not in place and that any settlement must take account of “new realities”, but that it is open to outside initiatives and ready to listen.
He recalled SA’s late president Nelson Mandela saying that “even when the conflict becomes most intense, that is when peace should be made”.
Meanwhile, the DA says it will submit urgent parliamentary questions to determine the cost to taxpayers of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “shambolic political stunt”
Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has described the party’s statement on the matter as full of inaccuracies and wrong assumptions — “as always”.
“Not only did the presidency lie about being unaware of missile strikes on Kyiv while Ramaphosa’s so-called peace mission was in town, but his administration’s sheer incompetence caused a planeload of his bodyguards, journalists and apparently unauthorised weapons to be denied entry to Poland and Ukraine,” Steenhuisen said.
“Cyril Ramaphosa must be held accountable for the millions of rand in taxpayer funds wasted on his failed PR stunt.
Reuters and TimesLIVE
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