Peace, Food, Fertilizer: African Leaders Challenge to Meet Moscow, Kiev

Delegation of six African leaders to meet with Kiev and Moscow It aims to “start a peace process,” but it also tackles the difficult question of how a heavily sanctioned Russia will keep the peace. Africa will be able to pay for fertilizer exports it desperately needs, a key mediator who helped broker the negotiations said in an interview with The Associated Press.

International negotiator Jean-Yves Olivier, who has been working for six months to finalize the negotiations, said African leaders were willing to ease further exports of grain from Ukraine during the war and allow more grain shipments. He said he would also discuss related issues related to sex. Exchange prisoners when visiting both countries on a peace mission.

Olivier said the talks are likely next month.

He arrived in Moscow on Sunday and will also travel to Kiev for meetings with senior officials to work out the “logistics” for future talks. As an example, six African presidents would likely have to travel by night train from Poland to Kiev in the midst of fighting, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky The two countries agreed to individually host presidential delegations from South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Zambia.

Olivier said in a video call with The Associated Press on Friday that the talks have also been endorsed by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union and China.

However, neither side of the war seems to be going to stop fighting.

The talks were announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, just as Russia launched heavy airstrikes on Kiev. Russia on Sunday claimed to have captured the key city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine after heavy fighting, a claim Ukraine denied.

“We are not dreamers,” Mr. Olivier said of the possibility that African leaders could achieve an immediate breakthrough in halting the 15-month conflict. “Unless something happens, I don’t think a truce will end the first mission.”

Olivier, a 78-year-old Frenchman who brought together opposing sides in a high-stakes negotiation that helped end apartheid in South Africa in the late 1980s, said the aim was to get started.

“It starts with signs. It starts with dialogue. And this is what we’re trying to do,” Olivier said. “There is no guarantee that we will succeed, but for the time being, Russia and Ukraine have received delegations to visit them specifically to discuss peace.”

An important starting point for Africa is cereals and fertilizers.

The war has severely restricted grain exports from Ukraine and fertilizer exports from Russia, exacerbating global food insecurity and hunger. Africa is one of the most affected continents. Last week Russia agreed to extend the deal by two months The scheme, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, would allow Ukraine to ship grain to the world through the Black Sea, and six African presidents appear to want it to be expanded further.

But we also need to find ways to make it easier for African countries to receive packages and pay Russia for fertilizer, Olivier said. Russian fertilizers are not subject to international sanctions, but the United States and some Western countries have sanctioned Russian cargo ships. Russia’s access to the global financial trading system SWIFT has also been restricted by sanctions, leaving African countries struggling to order and pay for vital fertilizers.

“We’re going to need a point of contact where SWIFT is authorized for this particular point,” Olivier said. “It’s a matter of consideration, in which case we hope to get the support of the Russians for the grain from Ukraine, and we hope to get the support of the Ukrainians so that the payment and shipment of fertilizers from Russia will be possible. Are expected.”

The African Mission is not alone in its mediation activities.China presents its own peace plan In February, a Chinese envoy held talks with Ukrainian officials. But China’s plans have been largely overruled by Ukraine’s Western allies, and Beijing’s political backing for Moscow has put things in jeopardy.

Ukraine and Russia are far apart in terms of agreements that could form the basis of a peace deal.

Olivier said the African delegation still had broad support after China also “came to us and offered to help” as a “parallel effort” to China’s plans.

“There will be more support and more weight on negotiations (with Moscow and Kiev),” said Olivier, founding chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation, a London-based dispute resolution group. rice field. “When one party says no, you think about who they are saying no to. Are they saying no only to Jean-Yves Olivier? To the Brazzaville Foundation? Six ( (African) head of state?”

“Or are they saying no to the United Nations, China, the Americans? The British? The European Union?”


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