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Key points of Vladimir Putin’s meeting with African peace mission

© Pavel Bednyakov/POOL/TASS

MOSCOW, June 18. /TASS/. Russia is ready to review any proposals from African states on the Ukrainian settlement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, receiving the representatives of seven African states, who arrived to present their peace initiative on Ukraine. Earlier, the African delegation discussed the initiative with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev.

During the talks with Putin, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the 10 main points of the peace plan, which include de-escalation of the conflict on both sides, diplomatic negotiations, ensuring sovereignty of states in accordance with the UN Charter, exchange of captives, post-war reconstruction and others. In response, Putin pointed out that Ukraine has withdrawn from the talks with Russia on its own initiative, although a peace agreement has been preliminarily signed in Istanbul. In addition, Russia was entitled to recognize the independence of DPR and LPR under the UN Charter, Putin noted.

The talks lasted for over 3 hours, and were subsequently commented upon by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Here are the key points from Putin’s conversation with the African leaders.

Africa’s balanced attitude

The African mission included President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Comoros Azali Assoumani (who also currently chairs the African Union), President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of Egypt Mostafa Madbouly and Special Representatives of Presidents of the Republic of the Congo and Uganda Floran Nsiba and Ruhakana Rugunda.

In the beginning of the negotiations, Putin underscored that the comprehensive development of ties with African states is a priority of Russia’s foreign policy.

"We consistently advocate further strengthening of the traditionally friendly relations with African states and the main regional association - the African Union - based on principles of equality, mutual respect and non-intervention in internal affairs," Putin said.

He added that Russia is open to a constructive dialogue with everyone who desires peace based on principles of justice equity and consideration of legitimate interests of all sides, noting that Russia values the balanced attitude of African countries to the situation in Ukraine and their desire to settle the crisis.

The 10 peace plan points

"We have arrived to listen to you and, through you, to listen to the voice of the Russian people. We would like to motivate you to enter negotiations with Ukraine in order to end this complex problem," Azali Assoumani noted. Macky Sall underscored that Africa wants peace between Russia and Ukraine, which is only possible based on dialogue and compromise.

Meanwhile, Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the time has come to end the conflict in Ukraine. Noting that Africa would like to become a mediator in the search for peace, he presented the plan, which focuses on the 10 main points for its achievement. The plan calls to listen to the positions of both countries; to begin the de-escalation on both sides; to ensure the sovereignty of states and peoples in accordance with the UN Charter; to achieve guarantees of security for all countries; to ensure transportation of both countries’ grain and fertilizer; humanitarian support to people affected by the war; settlement of the issue of exchange of prisoners and repatriation of children; post-war reconstruction and aid to the people affected by the war; closer cooperation with African states.

Russia’s right to recognize Donbass

The Russian President reacted to the presented peace plan, providing explanations of Russia’s position on some of them.

He pointed out that Russia supported the people of Donbass after the "bloody coup" in Ukraine, and had been trying to settle the situation peacefully for a long time.

"It was the Kiev regime who started this war in 20214, and we were entitled to provide [people of Donbass - TASS] with aid, in accordance with the UN Charter Article 51, citing the clause regarding self-defense," Putin underscored.

The preliminarily signed peace treaty

Putin pointed out that the Russian side has never rejected negotiations with Ukraine. It was Ukraine that declared its unwillingness, which was cemented by Zelensky’s decree.

Putin also pointed out that the Ukrainian authorities have preliminarily signed the draft agreement with Moscow, prepared in March, 2022, in Istanbul; however, after Russian forces were withdrawn, Ukraine disregarded the document. The President presented the document, which includes 18 articles and appendixes, to the African leaders. The document included clauses on neutrality and guarantees of security.

"It also touches upon armed forces and other things. It was all written down - up to numbers of vehicles and personnel," Putin disclosed.

Later, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the African leaders were interested to learn about the draft agreement on Ukraine.

Relocation of children

The Russian authorities have relocated children from the conflict area legally and never opposed their reconciliation with facilities, the head of state underscored.

"We were relocating them from the conflict area, saving their lives and health - this is what was happening. No one had any intention to separate any children from their parents. Entire orphanages were relocated totally legally, because orphanage heads were their legal representatives," he said. Putin added that Russian authorities "have never opposed reconciliation of children with their families, if, of course, their relatives show up."

Exchange of captives

The Russian president noted that Moscow cooperates with Kiev on exchange of POWs: "A lot is being done for that, both by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and our other partners and friends. And we are ready to support this process."

Deception instead of grain deal

Putin called the fact that food does not go to African countries in need under the grain deal a deception: "These neo-colonial authorities - European, and, in essence, American ones - once again deceived the international community and African countries in need."

According to Putin, about 31.7 million tons of agricultural products have already been exported from Ukrainian ports under the grain initiative, but only 3.1% of this volume went to developing countries.

The president stated that grain shipments from Ukraine do not solve the hunger problem.

"The crisis on the global food market is not at all a consequence of the special military operation in Ukraine; it started to emerge long before the situation in Ukraine. I emerged because Western states - both the US and European states - engaged in economically unjustified emission in order to solve its problems, connected to the coronavirus pandemic," Putin noted.

Understanding of true reasons

After the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was also present there, disclosed that the African peace initiative is not cemented on paper yet, but the African leaders displayed understanding of "true, deep reasons behind the current events" and comprehend that the exit from this situation lies in development of special specific actions on elimination of these reasons.

"First of all, [the African states] pointed out the well-known 12 points of the Chinese position, which was presented several months earlier, and they highlighted the parts […] that are close to them and that stipulate that there must be no double standards, that all principles of the UN Charter […] are respected and implemented, that no unilateral sanctions take place, that no one must try to ensure own security at the expense of security of others, that security remains indivisible on the global scale," the Foreign Minister said, underscoring that Russia supports such principal approaches.

According to Kremlins Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin and the African representatives are ready for further contacts, although not all clauses of the peace initiative correlate with Russia’s position.