(Bloomberg) — Russia and Ukraine are vying for support from Africa, which, along with the rest of the developing world, has been disproportionately affected by war and food supply disruptions. African leaders who met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Friday are expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday. Zelenskiy reiterated after meeting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and others that Ukraine “will not achieve diplomacy with Russia as long as they are on our territory”. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, replied that “when you are fighting, you probably still need to have room for dialogue”. About half of Africa’s 55 nations supported UN resolutions condemning the Russian invasion; others sought to remain unaligned.
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The African de-escalation plan, few details of which have been disclosed, is the latest in a series of foreign offers to arbitrate the conflict as Ukraine continues the counter-offensive launched this month in the east and the southeast of the country. kyiv troops made gains on at least three fronts on Friday, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Mailer Says Ukraine Advances 2 Kilometers South; Russia did not comment. Ukraine’s air defense warned of a ballistic missile threat in the south early Saturday, after shooting down a dozen cruise and ballistic missiles targeting kyiv on Friday. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reiterated its urgent call for high-precision and long-range weapons.
Russia has confirmed it has followed through on a plan announced in March to transfer tactical nuclear warheads to neighboring Belarus for storage, a move decried by opposition leaders in the Russian ally. “This is the first part,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “By the end of the summer, by the end of the year, we will complete this work.” Moscow said the missiles would remain under its control. The Russian president also said he saw no need to use nuclear weapons at this time.
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