Six African leaders propose that Ukraine accept opening peace talks with Russia even as Russian troops remain on its soil, South Africa’s presidency has said, as South African officials prepare to visit both countries to sell the idea.
“First is the cessation of hostilities. Second is a framework for lasting peace,” South African Presidency Spokesman Vincent Magwenya said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the initiative on May 16. President Macky Sall of Senegal, last year’s African Union chairman whose country was not present at the latest UN vote condemning Russia in February this year, leads the initiative.
It includes presidents Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia – which both voted for the resolution – and Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, which both abstained.
The peace mission is expected to travel to both Moscow and Kiyv in early June.
“My President made it very clear … [There will be] no talks between Ukraine and Russia unless Russians leave our territory within its internationally recognised borders,” Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa Liubov Abravitova said in a text message.
But she added: “We will receive all delegates and speak to them”. A spokesman for Russia’s embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.