(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday gave African leaders looking for to mediate within the warfare in Ukraine a listing of explanation why he believed a lot of their proposals have been misguided, pouring chilly water on a plan that Kiev has largely rejected.
African leaders have been looking for to agree on a collection of “confidence-building measures”, whilst Kiev launched a counter-offensive final week to expel Russian forces from the areas of southern and jap Ukraine it occupies.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated after their assembly in Kiev on Friday that peace talks would require Moscow to withdraw its forces from occupied Ukrainian territory, one thing Russia stated was non-negotiable.
Putin opened talks on Saturday with representatives of Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo, Comoros and South Africa at a palace close to St. Petersburg by stressing Russia’s dedication to the continent.
However after shows by the presidents of Comoros, Senegal, and South Africa, it goes in to problem the plan’s assumptions — primarily based on accepting internationally acknowledged borders — earlier than the spherical of statements goes any additional.
Putin reiterated his place that Ukraine and its Western allies began the battle lengthy earlier than Russia despatched its armed forces throughout the border in February final 12 months, which they deny.
He stated the West, not Russia, was chargeable for the sharp rise in international meals costs early final 12 months, which hit Africa particularly laborious.
He instructed the delegation that Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports that Russia had allowed over the previous 12 months had carried out nothing to alleviate Africa’s difficulties with hovering meals costs as a result of it had largely gone to wealthy nations.
He stated that Russia has by no means refused to carry talks with the Ukrainian aspect, which Kiev has prevented. Nevertheless, Moscow has repeatedly stated that any peace should permit for “new realities,” which means its declared annexation of 5 Ukrainian provinces, 4 of which it solely partially controls — a purple line for Kiev.
Russian International Minister Sergei Lavrov stated in televised remarks that Moscow shared the “primary approaches” of the African plan, however Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian information companies as saying it was “tough to attain”.
Peskov stated Putin has proven curiosity within the plan, which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined in his presentation, and Russia will proceed dialogue with African nations.
Lavrov stated they’d not reached the Russian chief with any message from Zelensky.
Putin stated that Moscow “is open to constructive dialogue with anybody who desires to determine peace on the idea of rules of justice and recognition of the legit pursuits of the events.”
There was no fast phrase on the bilateral talks that Ramaphosa, who hosted a summit in August of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, stated he was going to have with Putin.
Because the Worldwide Prison Court docket indicted Putin in March for warfare crimes — which he rejects — South Africa, as a member of the courtroom, has discovered itself within the awkward place of getting to arrest him if he units foot there.
Written by Kevin Levy. Enhancing by Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Heavens
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