Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of South Africa Liubov Abravitova said that South Africa at the last moment joined the “peace plan” of the leaders of African countries, who intend to visit Kyiv on June 16 to discuss this initiative.
“South Africa was not in this initiative until the last moment. They had already ‘caught the last ride’ when the initiative was already prepared. This was preceded by a number of events and serious criticism from both partner countries and within society regarding the pro-Russian position. South Africa uses this platform to show its impartiality and willingness to talk to both sides. But we immediately said, our president noted and the minister that we are ready to talk to everyone. And, in fact, we will do it,” the ambassador said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
According to Abravitova, it is expected that the African delegation that will arrive in Ukraine will include the leaders of the Comoros (which now heads the African Union), Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville and Senegal. It is also possible that there will be a president of Egypt.
“This is the first visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa in many years. And this will be the first visit of the President of Zambia to Ukraine,” the Ambassador to South Africa noted.
According to the diplomat, the issue of food security will be one of the key issues during the visit of African leaders to Ukraine.
In addition, the Ambassador noted that during his recent tour of African countries, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba was received not only by the foreign ministers, but also by the presidents of each of these countries.
“This means that Africa finally realizes the importance of Ukraine for it,” Abravitova said.
At the same time, she noted that after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, “of course, the number of South Africans supporting Ukraine has increased.”
“This means that society, business, public organizations create pressure inside the country, which encourages the government to at least start a dialogue with Ukraine. And now this results in a visit of African leaders, which will be made on the 16th to Ukraine, and then to Russia. In other countries, I think, the situation is basically the same, there is a transformation,” the Ambassador of Ukraine explained.
In his turn, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wrote on Twitter on June 14 that he had tested positive for coronavirus, so he would not be able to join the delegation. He will be replaced by former Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.
According to him, six African presidents from the Comoros, Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville and Zambia were supposed to arrive in Poland on June 15 to travel by train to Kyiv.
As reported, on May 16, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to host a group of African leaders to discuss a potential “peace plan.”
South Africa said it “wants to remain impartial” and prefers dialogue to end the war in Ukraine.
It is expected that African leaders will offer Ukraine to agree to start peace talks with Russia, even if Russian troops remain on its territory. The initiative is led by Senegalese President Macky Sall.