African Leaders in St. Petersburg on a Peace Mission

A peace plan for Ukraine was at the center of negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of seven African countries. The topic of the final preparations for the BRICS summit, scheduled in August in Johannesburg, was briefly discussed with the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Saturday, June 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of seven African countries in St. Petersburg. The Presidents of the Comoros, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia, accompanied by the Prime Minister of Egypt and some high-ranking representatives of the Republic of Congo and Uganda, traveled to Russia on a peace mission after an unsuccessful visit on Friday, June 16 to Kiev, which rejected proposals put forward by African leaders “on the fly.”

For South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, “the time has come to start concrete negotiations to end the war.” Unlike the Ukrainian authorities who rejected the African initiative as “an attempt to freeze the conflict,” Russia once again expressed gratitude to “all countries, all states, and all political and public figures who propose initiatives, who talk about peace, who make proposals and prepare themselves for this mission.” During the meeting with African leaders, President Putin said that “Russia is open to dialogue with everyone who asks for peace.” Ukraine, by presidential decree, “banned negotiations with Russia.”

A source close to the African mission reminded that “unlike Europe and the United States, Russia has never had colonies on the African continent, has never enslaved the population of Africa, but has always supported – both in Soviet times and in modern times – the struggle of African peoples for freedom and independence. We will never forget this,” the source added.

In this context, it was said that “Russia, unlike the United States, invited all African countries both to the St. Petersburg Economic Summit (SPIEF-2023, June 14-17) and to the Second Russia-Africa Forum scheduled for July 2023 in St. Petersburg.” The previous summit was organized in Sochi on the Black Sea in 2019.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “Russia invites all African countries to the Russia-Africa summit, unlike the United States that did not invite several African countries to a similar summit.” The American-African Conference took place in December 2022 and was attended by the heads of state and government of 49 African states, as well as a representative of the African Union. Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Sudan, where coups have previously taken place, were not invited to the three-day event. The forum also did not include Eritrea, with which the United States does not have diplomatic relations. The leaders of Zimbabwe and South Africa have previously said they “would not participate.”