1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
PoliticsSouth Africa

African leaders to present peace plan to Putin and Zelenskyy

May 16, 2023

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts have agreed to consider an African peace plan to end the war in Ukraine.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks about an African peace plan to end the war in Ukraine at a media briefing with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (not pictured) in Cape Town, South Africa
Ramaphosa said Putin and Zelenskyy gave him the go-ahead to "commence the preparations" for the discussion in Moscow and KyivImage: Esa Alexander/REUTERS

A delegation of African heads of state will travel to Russia and Ukraine "as soon as possible" to help end Russia's war in Ukraine, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday.

He had held separate phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who agreed to host the African leaders in Moscow and Kyiv to discuss a potential peace plan for the conflict.

"My discussions with the two leaders demonstrated that they are both ready to receive the African leaders and to have discussion on how this conflict can be brought to an end," Ramaphosa told a joint press briefing with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"Whether that will succeed or not is going to depend on the discussions that will be held," he said.

Senegal, Uganda, Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Zambia, and South Africa will all be part of the mediation effort.

Moscow and Kyiv did not immediately comment on Ramaphosa's statement.

African peace mission to visit Ukraine, Russia: Privilege Musvanhiri from Cape Town

Pressure on South Africa to pick sides

The effort by African leaders is the latest in a string of foreign offers of mediation and peace talks. It comes after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says peace talks in the Ukraine conflict are not possible at the moment.

But Ramaphosa said Guterres and the African Union (AU) have been briefed on and welcomed the initiative. He added the US and Britain had also expressed "cautious" support for the plan.

The South African leader gave no timeline for the visits but said the conflict had been "devastating," and African countries suffered "a great deal" from it.

The announcement came a day after Ramaphosa insisted South Africa was impartial, after the US last week claimed weapons were loaded onto Russian ship at a naval base in Cape Town late last year.

Ramaphosa said South Africa would not be drawn "into a contest between global powers" despite having faced "extraordinary pressure" to do so.

South Africa has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war.

lo/jcg (AP, AFP, Reuters)