South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the war in Ukraine must stop. Ramaphosa is in Russia as part of a peace-seeking delegation.
Seven African leaders presidents of Comoros, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia, as well as Egypt's prime minister and top envoys from the Republic of Congo and Uganda, visited Ukraine on Friday as part of a self-styled peace mission to both Ukraine and Russia to try to help end their nearly 16-month-old war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the delegation that he would not hold talks with Russia while they occupied Ukrainian land.
While in St Petersburg, Ramaphosa also said both parties should return their prisoners of war, and that children removed by Russia should be returned home. Hundreds of Ukrainian children were removed forcibly from their families during Russia's occupation of Ukraine. Putin has been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court for the same.
Ukraine began a counteroffensive to push back Russian forces last week.
Ramaphosa also said that the war should be settled by diplomacy and apprised Putin of the effects of war on Africa.
"The war cannot go on forever. All wars have to be settled and come to an end at some stage," he said, BBC reported. "And we are here to communicate a very clear message that we would like this war to be ended."
Putin, at the beginning of the dialogue, interjected the opening remarks by the African leaders to list out reasons why he thought many of their proposals were misguided. He reiterated that he had never blocked talks with Ukraine and that this conflict had been started by the West long before Russia sent in its troops.