African leaders in Kiev to mediate in Ukraine-Russia war

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via Reuters

African political leaders led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Kiev from Poland on Friday for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid ongoing attacks by Russia.

Following talks with Zelensky, the leaders are to travel on to Russia over the weekend for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Both leaders have indicated they are willing to meet the delegation, which aims to mediate a ceasefire followed by a durable peace.

The group includes the heads of state of Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville, Zambia and Comoros.

Egypt is represented by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuli, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is represented by a former prime minister, as he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

South African media reports said that Ramaphosa’s security guards had been held back on entering Poland as they had been unable to submit the correct documentation for the weapons they were carrying.

Ramaphosa is now travelling with only a small security contingent.

African states have a direct interest in the conflict as many are major importers of Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer.

The war has led to blockades and soaring prices in both sets of commodities.

There are fears that grain prices could rise more as a result of a blockade on exports.

South Africa has faced criticism from the West for some alleged pro-Russian policies and is suspected of supplying arms to Moscow.  (dpa/NAN)

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