South African President Cyril Ramaphosa with Russian President Putin
June 18, 2023 (GIN) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, among a group of seven African leaders meeting on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, presented an African plan to end the ruinous war between Russia and the Ukraine.
The delegation from South Africa, Egypt, Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville, Comoros, Zambia and Uganda was scheduled to meet with the Ukrainian leader on Friday and the Russian leader on Saturday.
Among their proposals was: that both leaders must listen to one another; that there must be a de-escalation of conflict on both sides; and, of major interest to Africans, that the movement of grains across the Black Sea must be opened up to remove blockages so that commodities can reach markets.
African Union Chair and president of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, said Africa’s history had taught its leaders to always find a peaceful solution to war. But, addressing President Putin, “we are not going to teach you any new lessons because your country has gone through many painful events in the past.”
The African proposals failed to dent the hardened positions of the Russian and Ukrainian leaders. Nor did they impress citizens at home. South Africans writing to the local Daily Maverick news outlet were incensed that the President’s security detail of 120 had failed to obtain proper paperwork for 12 containers of arms on board the plane that President Ramaphosa, accompanied by 30 journalists, would be carrying with him to the meeting with the Ukrainine leader in Kyiv.
As a consequence, Poland refused to allow South African security police to accompany the president. “Almost nothing was in place, almost nothing worked,” said reporter Pieter du Toit, one of the journalists who, along with the presidential protection unit, was held at the airport for more than 20 hours.
Among the undeclared and unauthorized weapons were “long-range sniper rifles and weapons normally used in serious conflict,” according to the South African Sunday Times quoting “highly placed South African Government insiders.”
Meanwhile, just as Ramaphosa was visiting the Ukraine, Russia shot off hypersonic and cruise missiles narrowly missing the high-ranking delegation of African leaders there to discuss peace options. Reuters reported seeing the African heads of state fleeing to a nearby hotel to use its air-raid shelter.
“Russian missiles are a message to Africa: Russia wants more war, not peace,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.