African Delegation In Kyiv Makes Push For Peace Through Negotiations With Moscow


(RFE/RL) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate their conflict after talks in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as an African delegation launched a mission to broker peace.

“This war must be settled and there should be peace through negotiations,” Ramaphosa told reporters on June 16. “We argue that there must be de-escalation on both sides.”

Ramaphosa added that African countries were prepared to participate in further engagement and “share the African perspective” on finding peace in Ukraine.

Zelenskiy reiterated that any talks with Russia now would be in Russia’s advantage.

“To allow any negotiations with Russia now while the occupier is on our land is to freeze the war, to freeze everything: pain and suffering,” Zelenskiy told a joint press conference with the African delegation.

“We need real peace, and therefore, a real withdrawal of Russian troops from our entire independent land,” he said.

Zelenskiy added that he conveyed this messageseveral times during his meeting with the African delegation.

The Ukrainian president said later that he he invited the African leaders to take part in a global peace summit that Ukraine is preparing.

“Ukraine will be heard all over the world, and we will involve the whole world in the implementation of the Peace Formula,” he said on Twitter.

The African delegation, led by Ramaphosa, is scheduled to continue its mission in St. Petersburg for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia had “never closed the door” on the idea of Ukraine peace talks.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin touted the destruction of Western tanks on the battlefield and threatened to destroy military equipment provided by Western countries even if it’s located outside Ukraine.

“If they are located outside Ukraine and are used in hostilities, we will have to look at how and where we can hit those weapons used in hostilities against us,” he said.

He also claimed the Ukraine will soon run out of its own arms and will be unable to fight with equipment brought in from the outside.

Moscow has stepped up its air attacks on Ukraine as Kyiv launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.

Moscow has stepped up its air attacks on Ukraine as Kyiv launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.

Even with the arrival of the African delegation — which includes officials from South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, the Comoros, and Egypt — the Ukrainian capital was targeted by fresh Russian air strikes.

Ukraine’s air defense said it shot down 12 missiles — six hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles and six Kalibr cruise missiles — above the capital.

Two children and an elderly woman were injured as a result of the attack in the Kyiv region, local police chief Andriy Nebytov said, adding that more than 30 houses were damaged.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the air strikes on Kyiv on June 16 were a “message” to the delegation that Russia was not serious about any peace talks.

“Putin ‘builds confidence’ by launching the largest missile attack on Kyiv in weeks, exactly amid the visit of African leaders to our capital. Russian missiles are a message to Africa: Russia wants more war, not peace,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, also commented on the attack.

“With what happened today, it’s very obvious also to the African leaders how sincere Putin is about stopping the conflict,” Stano said.

Overnight, Russia attacked several Ukrainian regions with missiles and drones, the Ukrainian military reported. Deaths and injuries were reported in the Kherson region, the Donetsk region, and the Zaporizhzhya region.

Russian shelling also caused damage to civilian infrastructure in the Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions, local officials reported.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down 20 drones, two of them in the southern Mykolayiv region, the military said. Russia launched five cruise missiles and numerous salvoes from rocket launchers on military and civilian targets, it added.

The command of the Ukrainian Air Force reported the downing of a Russian helicopter in the Donetsk region around 9 p.m. local time. The command said the destroyed aircraft was a Ka-52 attack helicopter.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said that Russian forces during the day on June 16 carried out 24 air strikes and about 35 attacks from rocket salvo systems.

“The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on the areas of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and Maryinka, where 21 combat clashes took place during the day,” the evening report stated.

The report said the air force carried out 14 strikes on concentrations of Russian military personnel, and the Ukrainian military also destroyed three reconnaissance drones.

The General Staff’s earlier report made no concrete mention of the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in various part of eastern and southeastern Ukraine, saying only that in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, Russian forces were on the defensive.

But a military spokesman said separately on June 16 that the Ukrainian offensive was under way in the directions of Bakhmut, Mariupol, and Russian-occupied Berdyansk, in the Zaporizhzhya region, where heavy fighting is ongoing.

Ukrainian forces also had some success in the Vuhledar area of Donetsk, spokesman Andriy Kovalev said.

“Just today, literally, we received information about the successful offensive and the repulse of the enemy in the Vuhledar area. Ukrainian units are conducting successful offensive operations in the area east of the settlement of Stupochki in the Donetsk region, where they pushed the Russian occupiers out of their positions,” Kovalev said.

Kovalev’s statements could not be independently confirmed.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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