Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have separately agreed to host an “African leaders peace mission” to try to reach a deal to end the war, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday.
Ramaphosa said he spoke to Putin and Zelensky by phone over the weekend, and they agreed to participate in meetings with leaders from six African countries in Moscow and Kyiv, respectively. He said he would join the leaders of Egypt, Zambia, Senegal, Congo and Uganda as part of the delegation to Russia and Ukraine.
“Principal to our discussions are efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict in the Ukraine,” Ramaphosa said.
He did not state what timeframe or parameters the talks would have, but he said the two leaders authorized him to start “preparations” for them.
He said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has been briefed on the plan and “welcomed” the proposal.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said that the United States would “welcome” any “credible” peace proposal, even if a third party proposes it. He said the proposal must have support from Zelensky and the Ukrainian people.
“We would support any third-party peace proposal, as long as it can be seen as credible, enforceable and sustainable,” he said at a press briefing.
South Africa, Congo, Senegal and Uganda abstained from a vote in the U.N. from last year to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Egypt and Zambia voted for it.
South Africa has also been grappling with how to deal with an international arrest warrant issued earlier this year for Putin, who was supposed to attend a BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August.
The news of the African peace mission comes as Ukrainian air defense shot down 18 missiles, including six hypersonic missiles, that were aimed at Kyiv on Tuesday.
Ukraine is also expected to launch a counteroffensive soon to take back territory that Russia has captured during the war. Zelensky said earlier this month that the offensive would be delayed to give the Ukrainian military more time to prepare and gain additional equipment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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