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South African President Says Russia-Ukraine War Poses Food Security Threat, Hike In Goods for Africans; Will Work with Putin and Zelensky to ‘Find a Peaceful Resolution’

The president of South Africa said this week he and other African leaders are preparing to attempt to mediate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in separate planned peace talks with the warring European neighbors.

According to The New York Times, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about the war’s impact in Cape Town on Tuesday during a joint briefing with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“The conflict in that part of the world, much as it does not affect Africa directly in the form of deaths and destruction to our infrastructure, it does have an impact on many Africans,” Ramaphosa stated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) greets South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) during the welcoming ceremony at the Russia-Africa Summit in Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, October 23, 2019. Leaders of African countries have gathered in Sochi for two-days summit. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

The ongoing conflict has contributed to food insecurity issues across Africa. The costs of goods like fertilizers, grain, and fuel continue to increase, according to the president. Even efforts to trade with other countries are encumbered.

Related: Black South Africans Were Forcibly Removed from Their Town 60 Years Ago After It Was Declared a ‘White Zone.’ Now, Some Have Reclaimed Their Land. Others Took a Payout.

Leaders from South Africa, Egypt, Zambia, Senegal, Uganda, and the Republic of Congo are all planning to act as delegates in upcoming peace missions in Kyiv and Moscow to find a way to end the war.

Dates for the missions have not yet been set or reported, nor has a framework emerged for how the peace talks will be conducted, but The Associated Press reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have apparently given South Africa the green light to “commence preparations” for the missions.

“Principal to our discussions are efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict in the Ukraine, its cost in human lives, and the impact on the African continent,’” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa has historically had friendly ties with Russia, even though the country said it would not take sides in the war. The Soviet Union supported South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party during its time as a movement battling to end the apartheid regime.

In February, the country allowed China and Russia to conduct a joint naval exercise off its coast and allowed Russian vessels to use its military facilities.

Although the U.S. and South Africa also have strong ties, Western countries have been exerting heavy pressure on South Africa recently because of its affiliations with Russia.

The U.S. ambassador to South Africa alleged that the country aided Russia’s war efforts after loading weapons and ammunition onto a Russian ship that was allowed to dock at a South African naval base last December. The South African government has denied this incident ever occurred but has appointed a judge to investigate the matter.

These upcoming peace talks are part of a number of missions endeavoring to bring the war to a diplomatic end.

A Chinese special envoy is being sent to Russia and Ukraine this week to discuss negotiations between the embattled nations. Pope Francis has also said that the Vatican was participating in a secret “mission” to make peace.

However, it doesn’t look like Russia and Ukraine are anywhere close to coming to an agreement.

President Zelenskyy has stated previously that he will not engage in negotiations that don’t mandate Russia’s withdrawal of its military troops from all occupied Ukrainian territory. Russia, on the other hand, is still demanding that Ukraine surrenders the Crimean Peninsula and the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia to be annexed as Russian territories. It’s a move most nations deem illegal.

South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Uganda abstained from United Nations resolutions last year condemning Russia’s invasion. Zambia and Egypt voted in favor of the motion.

According to The Associated Press, Zambia also has historical ties with Russia. Uganda is a U.S. ally but is also on friendly terms with Russia. However, the country maintains its neutral position in the war in Ukraine.

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