An African delegation, led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, embarked on a crucial peace mission to Ukraine, only to be met with a terrifying display of explosions and air strikes in the capital city of Kyiv. The leaders, including Ramaphosa, were forced to seek shelter in bunkers as air defenses swiftly responded to the attack. This unsettling incident unfolded just as the delegation was preparing to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, aiming to negotiate an end to Russia’s relentless war on the country.
In a shocking turn of events, this brazen missile attack occurred precisely as the African leaders arrived in Kyiv. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, condemned Putin’s disregard for the safety of foreign dignitaries, asserting that he feels a sense of complete impunity. Yermak drew attention to similar missile incidents during the visits of US President Joe Biden and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling for the world to take the toughest stance against Russia.
Amidst this tumultuous situation, Ramaphosa and his fellow African leaders arrived in Ukraine by train, accompanied by a group of South African journalists and security personnel. However, an unexpected standoff unfolded in Poland, where the delegation made a courtesy visit to President Andrzej Duda. Polish authorities prevented the group from disembarking for over 24 hours, citing the lack of necessary import permissions for the weapons on board their government-chartered aircraft. The incident threatened to overshadow the visit, considering Poland’s proximity to Ukraine and Russia.
While Western nations have criticized several African countries for their lack of condemnation towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ramaphosa remains firm in his pursuit of a negotiated resolution to the conflict. He has vowed not to take sides in the global powers’ contest. However, allegations have been raised, with the US ambassador to South Africa claiming that the country supplied arms to Russia in the past. Nonetheless, the African delegation’s primary focus is to alleviate the significant economic impact the conflict has had on African nations, particularly concerning food security, grain prices, and fertilizer costs.
In a surprising move, Putin recently hinted at providing grain “free of charge to the world’s poorest countries,” signaling a potential withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal. This agreement facilitated vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Putin emphasized that Russia’s intentions were to support “friendly” countries in Africa and Latin America while maintaining strong relationships. The future of this agreement is set to be discussed during the African leaders’ meeting with Putin.