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Putin praises 'balanced approach' of African countries on Ukraine conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with a high-level diplomatic delegation of African leaders in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, June 17, 2023. (Photo by RIA Novosti)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the "balanced approach" of African countries towards the resolution of the Ukraine conflict, which has been simmering since February last year.

Putin made the remarks on Saturday ahead of formal talks with a high-level diplomatic delegation aiming to push for peace between Kiev and Moscow.

"We welcome the balanced approach of African friends to the Ukraine crisis," Putin told African leaders from seven countries on Saturday, AFP reported.

The delegation, which arrived in Russia on Saturday a day after talks in Ukraine, hopes to bring to the table the voice of a continent that has badly suffered from the repercussions of the Ukraine conflict including by rising grain prices.  

The delegation includes four presidents: South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Senegal's Macky Sall, Zambia's Hakainde Hichilema and Comoros' Azali Assoumani, who also currently heads the African Union.

"We are open to a constructive dialogue with all those who want to implement peace based on the principles of justice and respect for the parties' legitimate interests," Putin said.

"In Russia, we highly respect the position of African countries in support of global stability... and support their desire for a pacifist policy," the Russian leader said.

Russia began its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, with a declared aim of “demilitarizing” Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics.

Back in 2014, the two republics, which are predominantly Russian-speaking, broke away from Ukraine, prompting Kiev to launch a bloody war against both regions. The years-long conflict has killed more than 14,000 people, mostly in the Donbas.

Since the onset of the conflict between the two countries, the United States and its European allies have unleashed an array of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and poured numerous batches of advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military fend off the Russian troops, despite repeated warnings by the Kremlin that such measures will only prolong the war.

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