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AFRICAN LEADERS VISIT UKRAINE

African leaders welcomed by a heavy bombardment on Kiev by Russian drones

A delegation of leaders and senior officials from Africa sought in Ukraine on Friday ways to end the country’s full-scale war with Russia and ensure food and fertilizer deliveries to their continent, though an air raid in Kyiv during their stay provided a reminder of the challenges they face.

The delegation, which included the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Comoros and Uganda’s representative Dr Ruhakana Rugunda first went to Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where bodies of civilians lay scattered in the streets last year after Russian troops abandoned a campaign to seize the capital and withdrew from the area.

The delegation’s stop in Bucha was symbolically significant, as the town has come to stand for the brutality of Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The Russian occupation of Bucha left hundreds of civilians dead in the streets and in mass graves. Some showed signs of torture.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said last month that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to separate meetings with members of an African peace mission.

The delegation was set to travel to St. Petersburg later Friday, where Russia’s top international economic conference is taking place, and meet with Putin on Saturday. It also includes senior officials from Uganda, Egypt and Congo-Brazzaville.

The members of the delegation represent a cross-section of African views about the war. South Africa, Senegal and Uganda have avoided censuring Moscow for the conflict, while Egypt, Zambia and Comoros voted against Russia last year in a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion. Many African nations have long had close ties with Moscow, dating back to the Cold War when the Soviet Union supported their anti-colonial struggles.

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