Putin meets with African leaders in Russia to discuss Ukraine peace plan

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with delegation of African leaders to discuss their proposal for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2023. Pavel Bednyakov/Host photo agency RIA Novosti via REUTERS
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ST. PETERSBURG, /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun talks with a delegation of seven African nations that arrived in St. Petersburg to look for solutions to the Ukraine crisis.

The meeting is taking place at the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, which was a residence of the Romanov imperial family and now hosts official events, including international ones. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will inform about the talks after the meeting.

On Friday, a peacekeeping mission, which has brought together presidents of Zambia, the Comoros, Senegal and South Africa, the prime minister of Egypt, and senior officials from Republic of the Congo and Uganda, visited Kiev where they held talks with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.

According to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the visit is aimed at trying to outline the framework for a peaceful solution to put an end to the crisis. Two diplomatic sources told TASS that food security and prisoner exchange were on the table of Saturday’s talks.

Reuters reported citing a draft framework agreement that African leaders are likely to propose confidence-building measures whose implementation could lay the groundwork for talks between Moscow and Kiev. According to Reuters, those measures could include a pullback of Russian troops, suspension of implementation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant targeting the Russian president, removal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, and relief from the sanctions imposed on Russia. It indicated that this could be followed by an agreement on cessation of hostilities and would need to be accompanied by negotiations between Russia and Western countries.

The draft plan includes a clause on the need to maintain the existing agreements on grain and fertilizers. The South African Foreign Ministry told TASS that the final framework agreement was not ready yet and would be worked out after the visit.