Russia, Ukraine to receive African mission on potential peace plan, Pretoria says

South African President Ramaphosa replies to questions in parliament in Cape Town

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskiy had agreed to meet a group of African leaders to discuss a potential peace plan for the conflict.

Details of the plan have not been publicly divulged, although Ukraine's stated position for any peace deal is that all Russian troops must withdraw from its territory.

"My discussions with the two leaders demonstrated that they are both ready to receive the African leaders and to have discussion on how this conflict can be brought to an end," Ramaphosa told a joint press briefing with the Singaporean prime minister in Cape Town.

"Whether that will succeed or not is going to depend on the discussions that will be held," he said.

Putin and Zelenskiy had agreed to receive the mission in their respective capitals Moscow and Kyiv, a South African Presidency statement said.

The peace plan is also backed by African leaders of Senegal, Uganda, Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, and Zambia.

Ramaphosa said the United States and Britain had expressed "cautious" support for the plan and the U.N. Secretary General had also been briefed about the initiative.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year but the war has largely stalemated, although Ukraine is expected to start a counteroffensive soon to try to take back land occupied by Russia.

Considered one of Moscow's closest allies on the continent, South Africa says it is impartial and has abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions on the war.

Last week, it rejected claims by U.S. ambassador to South Africa that weapons were loaded onto a Russian vessel from a naval base in Cape Town in December.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, Estelle Shirbon and Angus MacSwan)