S. African President announces peace talks initiative for Ukraine
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says Russia and Ukraine have agreed to receive an African mission that aims to initiate peace talk discussions between the two countries.
The Russian and Ukrainian Presidents have agreed to meet with a delegation of African leaders to discuss a possible peace deal to the Ukrainian crisis, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
The South African President did not reveal any further details regarding the peace plan, however, the two sides are miles apart in terms of their demands for a peace deal, as Ukraine has demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from what it considers its territory.
"My discussions with the two leaders demonstrated that they are both ready to receive the African leaders and to have a discussion on how this conflict can be brought to an end," Ramaphosa told reporters in a joint press briefing held alongside the Singaporean Prime Minister in Cape Town.
"Whether that will succeed or not is going to depend on the discussions that will be held," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have both agreed to receive the African delegation in Moscow and Kiev respectively, according to the statement. While the leaders of Senegal, Uganda, Egypt, the Republic of Congo, and Zambia have joined in on the African mission.
The South African President said that the US and the UK expressed "cautious" support for the initiative, as he added that the UN Secretary-General was also informed about the plan.
Last week, South African Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, revealed that the country has the capacity to act as a mediator between the two sides at the first opportunity presented. It seems now that the opportunity has actualized.
Pandor highlighted South Africa's active relations with both Presidents and that the country is attentively monitoring the conflict.
She further said that Western-led sanctions imposed on Moscow had "secondary" effects on non-belligerent countries which undermines their needs, causing them to "suffer."
Previously, the US ambassador to Cape Town, Reuben Brigety, accused South Africa of supplying Russia with munitions in a covert naval operation. According to the Financial Times, the accusations further deepened the foreign policy crisis for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the alleged act depicted a clear tilt toward the Kremlin in the context of the most recent events.
However, the US' public accusations resulted in an angry rebuke from the president, who has played a significant role in establishing South Africa's neutral position on the war in Ukraine, despite US efforts to turn the nation into a key factor to counter its declining hegemony in Africa.
After the US ambassador voiced that Washington considered itself entitled to making claims about what is considered "fundamentally unacceptable" regarding decisions made by another sovereign nation, the South African president expressed that it was "disappointing" that Brigety had “adopted a counterproductive public posture.”
In a statement, the President said that the public allegations made by Brigety "undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterized the recent engagements between US government officials and a South African official delegation led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr Sydney Mufumadi."
South Africa's International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said, that her country will not cut ties with Russia as per the wishes of third parties or countries.
"There are some who wish for us not to have relations with Russia and we made it clear that Russia is a friend [we hope to have] for many years. We cannot become enemies with many countries around the world at the demand of others," Pandor said on March 30, while hoping that the two countries remain friends for many years to come.