President Hakainde Hichilema, along with six other African leaders, is currently in Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the Africa Peace Mission. The purpose of their visit is to engage President Putin in finding a solution to end the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine.
Kennedy Kalunga, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Media, stated that the Africa Peace Initiative (API) is motivated by the humanitarian crisis and far-reaching consequences caused by the conflict. The disruptions to Africa’s commodity supply chains, rising costs of grain and fertilizer, food insecurity, and loss of life are some of the implications that have prompted President Hichilema to embrace the API. The initiative aims to create a conducive environment for economic and social prosperity.
Kalunga highlighted that President Hichilema, who recently assumed the chairmanship of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and will assume the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation in August, will coordinate peace initiatives in the region.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is also part of the peace-seeking delegation, conveyed a clear message to President Putin that the war in Ukraine must end. Ramaphosa outlined the 10 points of the African peace initiative, emphasizing the need for “confidence-building measures” and negotiations to resolve the conflict. He highlighted the negative impact of the war on the African continent and other countries worldwide.
During the talks, President Putin presented a list of reasons why he believed many of the proposals put forward by the African leaders were misguided. He reiterated his stance that the conflict was initiated by Ukraine and its Western allies before Russia intervened. Putin also expressed concern that Ukrainian grain exports, permitted through Russian-controlled waters, were not effectively addressing Africa’s food price challenges, as the majority of the grain went to wealthier nations.
Despite the differences in perspectives, Putin emphasized Russia’s commitment to constructive dialogue and expressed openness to peace negotiations based on fairness and the acknowledgement of the parties’ legitimate interests. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Moscow shared the main approaches of the African plan, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov affirmed that Russia would continue the dialogue with the African countries.
The African leaders’ peace mission to Ukraine and Russia signifies their commitment to resolving conflicts and promoting peace in the region. Although challenges and differing viewpoints exist, the hope is that through continued dialogue, a peaceful resolution can be achieved for the benefit of all parties involved.