Putin insists he is open to peace with Ukraine – but blames West for delay

Vladimir Putin speaks at Russia-Africa summit

Vladimir Putin told leaders at the Russia-Africa summit that he was ready to strike a peace deal over Ukraine. During a meeting with national leaders from Africa, President Putin tried to portray his country as the only one trying to end the conflict in Ukraine – despite launching the war in February 2022. He accused Western nations of trying to sabotage peace talks, claiming they wanted the war to continue out of their own self-interest.

President Putin praised an African-led peace plan for Ukraine but refused to commit to its terms.

In June, it was reported that the African peace plan included a Russian troop pull-back, removal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, suspension of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Putin, and sanctions relief.

He told African national leaders that Ukraine and the West, not Russia, were responsible for the conflict.

President Putin said: “We, on our side, have never rejected negotiations, we have always said that we are ready for further dialogue.”

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The Russian leader added: “Your approach, your ideas – all this echoes the points of the Chinese peace plan for Ukrainian settlement, presented in February.”

Turning to the West, he continued: “Have they forgotten that they destroyed the situation in Sudan? Have they forgotten what they did in Syria?

“They could not care less about the UN Charter, they only remember international law when they believe that these instruments could be used against someone – Russia, in this case.

“They will not achieve anything, this is too primitive. If they want someone to comply with the UN Charter and other international law acts, they should make an effort to comply with the same norms themselves.

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“However, this does not mean that we do not want and do not seek a peaceful resolution of any conflict.”

During his address, he said that the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO was a significant driver behind the war.

He said: “Kyiv obtained its independence during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, based on the declaration of independence, and this declaration states clearly that Ukraine is a neutral state.

“This is of principal importance to us; it is not quite clear for us, why the West started pulling Ukraine into NATO.”

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The summit was an attempt to strengthen ties with African countries and slow Russia’s isolation from the global community.

However, the turnout was far lower than in previous years.

Just 17 heads of African states are attending this year – less than half of the 43 heads of state that attended the 2019 conference.

Russia offered to send free grain to the continent, after sparking anger among some African leaders for withdrawing from the Black Sea grain deal.

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