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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

‘SA needed at peace summit’ – Ukraine representative

Despite Ramaphosa's focus on domestic issues, Ukraine hopes for SA's representation at upcoming peace summit.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa is sidelining international engagements to focus on post-election stability, the Ukraine government is optimistic SA will send a high-profile representative to the upcoming peace summit.

During the diplomatic round-table yesterday ahead of the summit in Switzerland, it emerged that Ramaphosa is to scale down on foreign travel, including to next week’s G7 summit, to focus on key issues at home.

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This includes the formation of a government of national unity after the ANC failed to win an outright majority in general election.

South Africa’s participation

Addressing a media round-table in Pretoria, Maksym Subkh, Ukraine’s special representative for the Middle East and Africa, lauded the role played by Ramaphosa and other African leaders in leading a peace mission to Ukraine and Russia in a bid to end the war.

He added: “South Africa has been involved in all the processes of negotiations at the level of national security advisers.

“SA was involved in all four meetings conducted at the level of national security advisers held in different parts of the world.

“We believe that South Africa should be heard because it is a strong partner of Ukraine and is an influential country which has a leading role on the continent.

“This makes it necessary for South Africa to show up at the summit and to play a leading role in the process.

“We consider this summit as the first step, with more gatherings to follow.

“The second summit will be held by the end of this year and we hope to include Russia.

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“We believe there should be a venue for peace-loving people to help stop Russian aggression, because the negative effects are felt across the world,” said Subkh.

While Russia will not send a representative to the first summit, which is to be attended by representatives of at least 92 countries, Subkh said he hoped it would be present at the next round later in the year.

“This war should not be allowed to spread throughout Europe and for Ukraine to fall.

“If Ukraine falls, it would pose an existential threat to all European nations and aggravate the food crisis.

“Africa has been the first continent to feel the repercussions of the war crisis.

An end to the war

“We want to put an end to this war of aggression that Ukraine has been going through for over two years.

“It is an existential war – not just about losing territory. It is about the future of Ukraine as a nation.

“We have gone through over 200 rounds of negotiations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donbass in 2014.

“We have not seen any practical results from the previous talks, but Russia used that as a prerequisite to start its full-scale war in Ukraine.

“On 15 June, the summit will start with a plenary and on 16 June we will have three panels reflecting three pillars of the Zelensky peace formula, which are energy security, food security and humanitarian issues regarding the exchange of prisoners of war and the release of children,” he said.

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