April 15, 2024

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He visited African leaders with a peace plan. Putin showed little interest.

RIGA, Latvia — When Russian President Vladimir Putin met African leaders in St. Petersburg over the weekend, he quickly conveyed his de facto rejection of their plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, which called for a de-escalation of military escalation and the return of those affected by the war. children to their home.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was equally quiet the day before, saying there could be no peace deal unless Russia withdraws its forces from Ukrainian soil.

But the Russian missile attack on Kiev at the very moment when the peace mission was on the ground conveyed disrespect to the African delegation of seven countries, including four presidents. Analysts said it was an insult likely to tarnish Putin’s reputation in Africa ahead of next month’s Russia-Africa summit, which aims to show support for Russia in the global south.

William GumedProfessor, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg The chairman of the Democratic Business Foundation said that African leaders expect Russia to refrain from attacks during their visit to the Ukrainian capital.

Instead, Russia launched a barrage of missiles including six Kinzhal supersonic missiles, six Kalibr missiles, and two drones, according for the Ukrainian army.

“Normally what you would expect, and what the Africans expected, is that at least during that period there will be some kind of ceasefire, and the Russians will not launch anything,” Gumede said. “But there was the disappointment that during that trip, Putin really flexed his muscles.”

South Africa’s presidential spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, initially dismissed the Russian missile attack as “misinformation”, but was later contradicted by his boss, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“There is a reason why [Magwenya] He said it – because they couldn’t believe it was happening. “It has to be fake news, because it can’t be real,” Gumede said.

As African leaders visit Ukraine, Russia fires missiles at Kiev

At the same time, he added, the African delegation never expected a quick breakthrough. But Putin’s swift rejection of key elements of the 10-point peace plan conveyed a clear message that despite his repeated claims to be “open to negotiations,” the Russian leader still expects Kiev to capitulate to his illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday there was no “stable basis” for the negotiations, blaming Kiev and downplaying the “potential productivity” of any future discussions with African leaders about peace.

According to analysts, Putin’s boycott of African leaders’ overtures at Saturday’s meeting at Konstantinovsky Palace on the Gulf of Finland is also seen as an irreverent snub that could dent his support in Africa, where the meeting was closely watched.

The delegation included, in addition to Ramaphosa, President of the African Union, President of the Comoros Azali El Othmani, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Zambian President Hakende Hichilema, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and representatives of Uganda and the Republic of the Congo.

The Kremlin script showed Putin allowing three presidents to speak but intervening to express his disagreement with the African position, before Hichilema and three other actors ended the show.

Treat African leaders “like little children,” said political analyst Justice Malala, author of “Putin.”South African bailout plot. “You just don’t. You have seven people who are supposed to talk and after three of them you stop them and say you don’t know what you’re talking about. “It is a great disdain, and it is seen as such,” Malala said.

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Interrupting him, Putin continued to insist that it was “Western sponsors,” not Russia, who started the war and rejected African calls to repatriate children caught up in the war. Putin, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court over the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia, claimed, “We took them out of the conflict zone, saved their lives and health. That’s what happened.”

“The way Putin responded to it I think will actually undermine Putin’s influence in Africa in the future, not only in Africa but South Africa and the ANC,” Gumede said, referring to the missile strikes and Putin’s behavior at the St. Petersburg meeting.

“The members of the ANC have come out with a much better picture of Putin as a dictator, not caring about anything else but his position and prestige,” he said.

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Many African countries, resentful of pressure from Washington or Moscow to take sides in the war, have abstained or opposed a UN vote condemning Russian aggression.

However, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is seen in the West as pro-Russian, given its historical Soviet ties and announce friendly relations with Moscow. For Ramaphosa, the trip to Ukraine and Russia was an opportunity to reset those perceptions — especially after the United States in May accused South Africa of supplying arms to Russia.

Malala said Ramaphosa hopes to neutralize the damage done to South Africa by the strong stance of the pro-Russian African National Congress, amid fears the country could lose free access to the United States for thousands of products under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

“For me, it would be a miracle if Ramaphosa wins this,” Malala said. “Quite frankly, the Ukrainians no longer trust South Africa,” he said. He added that Putin’s behavior in Saturday’s meeting suggested he was viewing Ramaphosa as a “joke”.

Ramaphosa has conducted an independent investigation into whether the Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, which docked at a South African naval base in December, shipped weapons to Russia, but its findings will be kept secret, making it difficult to allay suspicions.

Ramaphosa also met Putin separately to discuss the difficult matter of the Russian president attending the BRICS summit in South Africa in August, when South African authorities are under an obligation to arrest Putin due to the ICC indictment.

There is no easy way around this, with the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court enshrined in South African law. Rescinding the obligation to arrest him would require a parliamentary vote, which would have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

“What I’m hearing is that Putin has been insisting – until now – that he wanted to come,” Gumid said. “I think what South Africa is trying to explain to Russia and China is that it’s not quite as simple as granting Putin a pardon.”

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Gumede said the ANC could not guarantee a majority vote to abandon the Rome Statute in Parliament “because many of its members want to see Putin arrested”. He added that any such step would be opposed in the Constitutional Court by civil society and opposition parties.

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South Africa’s initial response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine was to call for Russia to “immediately withdraw” its forces. But in February it hosted naval exercises including Russia’s, and in May it sent its army chief, Lieutenant-General Lawrence Mbatha, to Moscow for talks on “combat readiness”, casting doubt on South Africa’s claims of non-aligned status.

Addressing Putin during Saturday’s meeting, Ramaphosa called for an end to the war, defining aspects of the African peace plan, including upholding national sovereignty and the UN Charter, which bans aggression unless it is in self-defense.

In response, Putin repeated his false claim that the Russian invasion was initiated in 2014 by “Western sponsors”, through a Ukrainian “coup”, referring to the Maidan Revolution, known in Ukraine as the “Dignity Revolution”. In fact, it was the field of a popular uprising against President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country.

The African delegation also expressed concern about the impact of the war on food security in Africa, due to the high prices of food and fertilizers. But Putin denied that the war caused the food security problem, adding that only 3 percent of the grain exported under the deal went to Africa, raising doubts about the future of the deal.

But the missile strike on Kiev may have had a lasting effect on African leaders. Malala said the message was “You guys are helpful when you say you’re not biased, but other than that we can do whatever we like.”