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Moscow ‘carefully’ examining African proposals to end Ukraine war: Putin

Desk Report
July 28, 2023 8:22 pm
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Russian President Vladimir Putin today said Moscow was “carefully” examining proposals made by some African leaders to end the Ukraine war since it was affecting their economies and particularly grain supplies, as Moscow is hosting a two-day Russia-Africa Summit.

 International media reports said African leaders pressed Putin to move ahead with their peace plan to end the conflict and renew a deal on the export of Ukrainian grain that Moscow tore up last week.

 “We respect your (African leaders) initiatives and we are examining them carefully,” AFP quoted him as saying on the second day of the summit in Saint Petersburg, his hometown.

 Russia’s state-run TASS news agency, meanwhile, said Putin pointed to the African peace initiative on Ukraine as an indicator of the continent’s increased role and described Africa as “emerging power centre”.

 The African proposals included military de-escalation, security guarantees for both sides and a mutual recognition of sovereignty.

 “That says a lot as, previously, any mediatory missions were the exclusive monopoly of the so-called developed (western) democracies,” TASS quoted the Russian leader as saying.

 “We are witnessing the African continent becoming a new center of power. Its political and economic role has been growing exponentially, and everybody will have to reckon with this objective reality,” he said, according to TASS.

 The western media outlets said though the African leaders did not directly criticized Russia, their interventions on day two of a summit with Putin served as pointed reminders to him of the depth of African concern at the consequences of the war, especially for food prices.


 Several western experts suggested the summit was a test of Putin’s continued support in Africa, where he still largely retained it so far while AFP said Putin was using the summit to try to inject new momentum into Russia’s ties with Africa.

 He promised increased trade and investment there as part of a drive to counter what he portrays as a hegemonic US-dominated world order during the opening of the summit on Thursday, he promised to deliver free Russian grain in the next several months to six of the countries attending the summit.

 The Russia-Africa summit comes after Moscow pulled out of a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, raising concern among African nations while in June, an African delegation travelled first to Ukraine and then to Russia to offer mediation in the conflict.

 The African proposals included military de-escalation, security guarantees for both sides and a mutual recognition of sovereignty.

Ukraine, however, said until the Russian troops leave its soil, the conflict would continue while Moscow too earlier said the African proposals would be “very difficult to implement”.

“The African (peace) initiative deserves the closest attention, it mustn’t be underestimated,” Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso told Putin and fellow African leaders in St Petersburg.

“We once again urgently call for the restoration of peace in Europe,” he said via a translator.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Russia to revive the Black Sea grain deal allowing Ukraine to export grain from its seaports despite the war. Kremlin last week refused to renew the deal last week.

 Sisi told the summit it was “essential to reach agreement” on reviving the deal particularly to halt grain price hike while the Russian leader responded by arguing that rising world food prices were a consequence of Western policy mistakes that long predated the Ukraine war.

 Since withdrawing from the deal, Russia has repeatedly bombed Ukrainian ports and grain depots, prompting accusations from Ukraine and the West that it is using food as a weapon of war, and global grain prices have risen again.

 Since the start of the Ukraine offensive, Russia has sought to strengthen diplomatic and security ties with Africa while, its Wagner mercenary group led by Prigozhin has been a major player in the security sphere in Africa.

 His mercenaries were tracked in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, Ukraine and Syria.


 The Prigozhin-led Wagner group’s failed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership last month had cast doubt on the future of the group’s operations in Arica.

 But CNN television reported the mercenary leader was spotted inside Russia on Thursday for the first time since he led an armed rebellion against the Russian military last month.

 “Prigozhin was seen in St. Petersburg, meeting with an African dignitary on the sidelines of the Russia Africa summit, according to accounts associated with the mercenary group,” the CNN report said.

 The dignitary is part of the Central African Republic delegation to the summit. Wagner has had a presence in the Central African Republic for several years.

CNN said it was able to geo-locate a photograph of Prigozhin and the dignitary to the Trezzini Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, where, according to Russian media, the Wagner founder has kept an office.

The hotel was one of the locations searched by Russian authorities on July 6, after the rebellion.

 Since then, Prigozhin had only been seen in public on July 19, when he seemingly appeared in a video inside Belarus, apparently greeting Wagner fighters at a base in Asipovichy.

 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a longtime Putin ally who negotiated a deal between Kremlin and Moscow to end the mutiny, later claimed he convinced Putin not to “destroy” Wagner and Prigozhin during the rebellion.

 Prigozhin and Putin have known each other since the 1990s and the mercenary leader became a wealthy oligarch by winning lucrative catering contracts with the Kremlin, earning him the moniker “Putin’s chef.”

 But his rebellion posed one of the biggest challenges to Putin’s long rule.

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