African Mediators: Who, What, Where, Why and How


The African peace mission on Russia-Ukraine crisis comprised four presidents: President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the Mediation Group. The current Chairman of the African Union (AU) and President of the Union of Comoros Azali Assoumani; President of the Republic of Senegal Macky Sall and President of the Republic of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema.

The mission was also expected to include the leaders of Egypt, the Republic of the Congo and Uganda. Egypt was represented by the country’s prime minister, President of the Republic of Uganda Yoweri Museveni was diagnosed with the coronavirus right before the trip, while his Congolese counterpart Denis Sassou Nguesso decided not to take part.

The high-ranking delegation went through Warsaw, Poland and then by train to Kiev and St. Petersburg. In the run-up to his departure, Ramaphosa said that “the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is a grave situation that affects all of us in an interconnected world.”

United Nations’ Resolutions: More than half of Africa’s 55 states voted in favor of United Nations resolutions condemning the invasion of Ukraine, while most of the rest abstained. Many African states have maintained a non-aligned position, but Washington says these African leaders must necessarily define the “true non-alignment” position.

One distinctive feature in all these is that Africans have different views on the conflict. South Africa and Uganda are seen as leaning towards Russia, while Zambia and Comoros are closer to the West. Egypt, Senegal and Congo-Brazzaville have remained largely neutral.

Ramaphosa’s government has come under growing pressure from the United States because of its alleged support for Russia.

Reasons: The key aim of African peace mission primarily to propose “confidence-building measures” in order to facilitate peace between the two countries. It was to seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict which began Februay 22, 2022.

Russia referred to it as “special military opration” largely directed at “demilitarization” and “denazification” in neigbouring Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union. After the Soviet’s collapse in 1991, both as independent states have, in the first instance, legal claims to their individual territorial integrity and political sovereignty within the international law.

The African delegation had on their agenda to discuss the export of Ukrainian grain and Russian fertilizers. As well-known, Russia-Ukraine crisis as well as the sanctions have had an adverse effects on African economies and livelihoods. But most of the African countries have claimed neutrality in the conflict, Moscow has long nurtured good political relations with the governments on the African continent.

Russians are currently in a dilemma. Globethrotting for Soviet-era friends, and to avoid isolation. Russians are soliciting for support for its illegal invasion of Ukraine. This is absolutely different from the emerging multipolar world. A multipolar world must have relative peace and be more integrative, but Russia has partitioned the world.

Background: Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that he was still open to any contacts to discuss possible scenarios for and taking a resolution of the Ukraine conflict. Russia is open to negotiations. We know that Moscow has already annexed four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine as well as the Crimea peninsula, which it seized in 2014.

Ukraine wants to protect its territory from illegal encroachment. It clearly says its own peace plan, which envisages the withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukrainian land, must be the basis for any settlement of the war.

What documents say: The peace mission could propose a series of “confidence building measures” during initial efforts at mediation, according to a draft framework document. The document states that the objective of the mission is “to promote the importance of peace and to encourage the parties to agree to a diplomacy-led process of negotiations”.

According to a framework document, those measures could include a Russian troop pull-back, removal of tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, suspension of implementation of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant targeting Putin, and sanctions relief, it indicated.

A cessation of hostilities agreement could follow and would need to be accompanied by negotiations between Russia and the West, the document stated. Kyiv says its own plan, which envisages the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian land, must be the basis for any settlement of the war.

How it started: The main organizer of this peace mission is non-profit Brazzaville Foundation based in Britain. Jean-Yves Ollivier, has described the mission’s goals as modest.

He said the aim was to start talking rather than to resolve the conflict, to begin a dialogue on issues that do not directly affect the military situation and build from there.

The other is to try and find solutions to issues that matter to Africa, like grain and fertilizer. Ollivier expected African leaders to persuade the Russians to extend the fragile agreement that allows Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea.

Ollivier heads a UK-based organization known as the Brazzaville Foundation, which focuses primarily on peace and development initiatives in Africa.

Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.