A delegation of African leaders has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to begin peace talks with Ukraine during a meeting with the Russian leader in St. Petersburg.
“We would like to encourage you to start negotiations with Ukraine,” Azali Assoumani, the president of Comoros and the current chairman of the African Union (AU), told Putin on Saturday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “We are convinced that the time has come for both sides to start negotiations and end this war.”
Putin, who himself ordered the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, once again blamed Ukraine for the fact that there are currently no peace negotiations.
The delegation, which also includes representatives from Egypt, Senegal, Zambia, Congo and Uganda, said it has drawn up a 10-point plan as part of its peace initiative.
The hopes that the mediation mission will be successful after almost 16 months of war are extremely slim.
But Russia is particularly interested in bolstering relations with African countries given its economic and diplomatic isolation from Western powers.
At the end of May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was in Kenya, Mozambique, Burundi and South Africa. A summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in August in South Africa is also being eagerly awaited.
The African delegation met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Friday.
Zelenskyy spurned the suggestion he should negotiate with Moscow, saying there would be no talks as long as Russian soldiers are still on Ukrainian territory, including in the peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.
During the visit, the Russian army once again fired missiles at Kyiv.
Many African countries are hurting from the prolonged conflict.
Countries in East Africa in particular depend on grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine. New price increases are feared as a result of fewer grain exports.