May 19, 2024

African Leaders Rally for Peace in Kyiv, Prepare to Meet Putin as Zelensky Underplays Peace Efforts amid Growing US Support and a Group of US Lawmakers’ Call to Sanction South Africa over Russia Ties

African nations have traveled to the capital city of Kyiv to call for peace between Russia and Ukraine. The African delegation included leaders from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, South Africa, and the Comoros.

During a joint press conference on Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his African counterparts, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed the readiness of African countries to play a significant role in a peace pact between Russia and Ukraine. He emphasized the importance of negotiations and peaceful resolutions, drawing upon South Africa’s journey toward peace.

“And the road to peace is not an easy one. It’s often a very difficult one. We also, from our own country, had to traverse that difficult road to peace. Even when the conflict becomes most intense, that is when peace should be made and be found,” President Ramaphosa stated.

While African nations have actively called for peace rather than war, tensions have risen as the United States and other Western countries have continued to provide military support to Ukraine.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior officials, a group of U.S. lawmakers has even called for relocating the planned U.S.-Africa trade summit, scheduled to be hosted by South Africa, due to concerns over the country’s perceived “deepening military relationship” with Russia.

The lawmakers also suggested potential consequences for South Africa’s benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

South Africa is due to host the AGOA Forum in Johannesburg, a meeting of African leaders and U.S. officials to discuss the program’s future, set to expire in 2025.

The lawmakers expressed serious concerns that hosting the forum in South Africa would implicitly endorse the country’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In response to the letter, South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela clarified on Twitter that there had been no decision by the State Department or the White House to move the AGOA Forum from South Africa.

AGOA, which grants eligible sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the U.S. market, has been a significant aspect of U.S. economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa. It has facilitated economic growth, promoted political and economic reform, and strengthened U.S.-Africa relations.

The African leaders remain focused on pursuing peace and stability amid these developments. Following their meetings in Kyiv, the delegation is set to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Saturday. However, Ukrainian President Zelensky expressed skepticism about the purpose and potential outcomes of this meeting.

“This is their decision, how logical it is, I don’t really understand,” President Zelensky commented during a press conference. He reiterated Ukraine’s longstanding stance that peace talks with Russia could only occur after Moscow withdraws its forces from the occupied Ukrainian territory, emphasizing the importance of a genuine withdrawal for lasting peace.

As the African leaders prepare to meet with President Putin, the complexities of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict become increasingly apparent.

Their unity and commitment to delicate negotiations highlight the significance of international cooperation and dialogue in resolving disputes and fostering lasting peace in the region.

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