A team of high-ranking African officials, led by several African presidents, is set to discuss the ongoing conflict in Ukraine with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg this Saturday.
This meeting represents the latest attempt to mediate a resolution to Russia’s continued military activities in Ukraine.
The African diplomatic team comprises South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, and the African Union’s current leader, President Azali Assoumani of Comoros. Their collective aim is to persuade both the Russian and Ukrainian leadership to engage in diplomatic negotiations to bring an end to the conflict.
This meeting follows a previous discussion held on Friday with Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. However, the meeting with Zelenskyy was overshadowed by the disruptive noise of defensive sirens.
During Friday’s economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin revealed that Russia had begun the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. While he emphasized that Russia did not currently see the necessity to use nuclear weapons, he noted the delivery of shorter-range nuclear weapons to Belarus as a cautionary measure against Western involvement in Ukraine.
The White House has expressed strong disapproval of Putin’s statements and assured that the U.S. has not altered its nuclear stance in response to these comments.
Furthermore, Putin warned of the “serious danger” of NATO being further dragged into the Ukrainian conflict during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Despite the economic burden of international sanctions due to the war, he presented a positive view of Russia’s economy. Western media were notably excluded from the event.
Putin went on to claim that Ukraine is becoming overly reliant on Western military aid, as it exhausts its own military resources.
He insisted that such a dependence would not be sustainable in the long run. Despite Putin’s assertion that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is failing, independent military analysts have reported that Ukraine’s military performance has exceeded expectations against Russia’s larger forces, resulting in Russian retreats around several Ukrainian cities.