Zelenskyy Requests Assistance from African Leaders to Urge Putin to Release Political Detainees

by Michael Nguyen
Ukraine-Russia Conflict

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on a group of African leaders to press Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, for the liberation of political prisoners from Crimea and beyond during their scheduled trip to Russia on Saturday.

On Friday, Ukraine was visited by seven African leaders including the presidents of Comoros, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, Egypt’s prime minister, and top representatives from the Republic of Congo and Uganda. The visit was part of a self-proclaimed “peace mission” to both Ukraine and Russia aimed at mediating their ongoing war of nearly 16 months.

The African leaders are set to meet Putin on Saturday in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. The trip has added significance for these African nations as they rely on food and fertilizer supplies from both Russia and Ukraine, which have been disrupted due to the ongoing conflict.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, during a press conference held alongside Zelenskyy and the other African leaders, acknowledged the severity of the war and stressed the necessity to end it. Ramaphosa stated, “There is a need to bring this conflict to an end sooner rather than later.”

The delegation included a broad representation of African perspectives on the conflict. Countries like South Africa, Senegal, and Uganda have refrained from blaming Moscow for the conflict, while Egypt, Zambia, and Comoros opposed Russia last year in a U.N. General Assembly resolution.

Zelenskyy seized the opportunity to plead with the leaders to help secure the release of political prisoners from Crimea, which Russia unlawfully annexed in 2014.

Global human rights organizations have accused Russia of targeting the Crimean Tatar ethnic group with arbitrary detentions and unwarranted prosecutions since 2014, leading to long-term imprisonments.

The group of African leaders visited Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, notorious for the brutalities inflicted during the Russian invasion in February 2022, leaving hundreds of civilians dead, with signs of torture on some. The visit to Bucha was symbolically significant as the leaders placed commemorative candles at a small memorial near a mass grave.

The focus of the peace mission, however, is not only to catalyze a peace process but also to negotiate ways to pay Russia for the much-needed fertilizer exports despite heavy international sanctions.

As Ukraine embarks on a counteroffensive to dislodge Kremlin’s forces from occupied areas, Western experts and military officials warn that the campaign could be prolonged.

China’s peace proposal, presented at the end of February, was largely dismissed by Ukraine and its allies, and a cease-fire seems distant.

Russian shelling in southern Ukraine’s flood-stricken Kherson region resulted in two civilian deaths and two injuries. The flooding in Kherson has started to recede, with the average water level in affected areas falling to about 5 feet, down from 16 feet the previous Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian presidential office.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ukraine-Russia Conflict

Who appealed to African leaders for help with the release of political prisoners?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to African leaders to ask his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to free political prisoners from Crimea and beyond.

What was the purpose of the African leaders’ visit to Ukraine and Russia?

The African leaders visited as part of a self-proclaimed “peace mission” to both Ukraine and Russia. Their aim is to mediate the ongoing war, assess the impact of the war on food and fertilizer supplies, and to discuss the issue of political prisoners in Crimea.

What countries did the African delegation represent?

The African delegation included the presidents of Comoros, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, Egypt’s prime minister, and top representatives from the Republic of Congo and Uganda.

How has the Ukraine-Russia war impacted Africa?

The ongoing war has disrupted food and fertilizer supplies from Russia and Ukraine, on which many African countries rely.

What was the African leaders’ stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict?

The African leaders represented a cross-section of views, with countries like South Africa, Senegal, and Uganda refraining from blaming Moscow, while others like Egypt, Zambia, and Comoros opposed Russia in a U.N. General Assembly resolution.

What is the status of the Ukraine-Russia conflict as of now?

As of the time of the report, Ukraine is launching a counteroffensive to dislodge Russian forces from occupied areas. A peace proposal from China was largely dismissed by Ukraine and its allies, and a ceasefire seems distant.

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JJstar June 17, 2023 - 1:28 am

Whoah, Africa stepping into the game huh? Guess the conflict is hitting everyone in one way or another…let’s see what happens.

Mike1987 June 17, 2023 - 2:07 am

Wow, this is huge… African leaders stepping in, tryna mediate the war. I mean, it’s good, but don’t they have their own issues to sort out back home? Just sayin’.

SashaD June 17, 2023 - 6:37 am

Didn’t expect to see African leaders involved in the Ukr-Rus conflict. Will Putin listen? Doubt it…still it’s good to see the world standing up against the injustice in Crimea.

PoliticalObserver June 17, 2023 - 3:03 pm

What a mess…praying for peace in Ukraine. It’s time for the world leaders to work together to end the conflict…enough is enough!

TruthTeller June 17, 2023 - 3:41 pm

Seriously Zelenskyy asking African leaders to intervene. That’s a new one. Do they have any sway over Putin? I highly doubt it.

peace_lover June 18, 2023 - 12:47 am

it’s about time the world steps in…this war has gone on for far too long. Too many lives lost, its just sad…


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