African leaders urge Ukraine to accept peace talks with Russia
South Africa has called on Russia and Ukraine to work towards negotiating a peace deal. That comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the leaders of six African nations plan to make their way to both Moscow and Kiev next month to promote bilateral talks.
"First is the cessation of hostilities. Second is a framework for lasting peace," South African Presidency Spokesman Vincent Magwenya was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The presidents of Egypt, Zambia, Congo, Uganda, South Africa and Senegal have also urged Ukraine to accept opening peace talks with Russia and drop its precondition of a complete withdrawal of Moscow's forces from territories Kiev claims as its own.
Moscow, meanwhile, has demanded that Kiev recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which joined the Russian Federation back in 2014, as well as the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, which joined Russia in 2022.
Responding to President Ramaphosa, Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa Lyubov Abravitova stated that "my President made it very clear... no talks between Ukraine and Russia unless Russians leave our territory within its internationally recognised borders."
She confirmed, however, that Kiev would nevertheless welcome the African leaders and speak to them.
Responding to the African plan, a US State Department spokesperson also said that Washington would "welcome any successful effort to convince [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to end his war of territorial aggression".
Moscow has also said that it would welcome the six presidents and is ready to listen “with great attention to any proposals that will contribute to resolving the situation in Ukraine.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated last week that Moscow was prepared to consider proposals put forth by African and Latin American nations. He added, however, that Western nations do not appear as open-minded and only seem to acknowledge President Zelensky’s ten-step peace plan, which involves the “capitulation of Russia,” a tribunal against the Russian leadership, and reparations for Ukraine.
“The West claims that this is the only plan that is currently on the table and which it supports,” Lavrov said, noting that Zelensky has repeatedly declined to hold any talks with Moscow and has officially outlawed negotiations with Russia so long as Vladimir Putin remains president.