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S.A.'s Ramaphosa urges Russia, Ukraine to de-escalate

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) listens to South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa as they address media after their talks in Kyiv on June 16, 2023.   -  
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South Africa's President, on Friday (June 16), called on Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the war.

Shortly after his arrival with Senegal's, Zambia's and the Comoros' presidents, the leaders went to Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine's capital where the Russian army is accused of killing civilians in 2022.

An air raid in Kyiv during Cyril Ramaphosa's visit provided a reminder of the challenges they face.

"As we were here, we heard of missile strikes, and those types of activities are not good for fostering peace, and we argue that there must be de-escalation on both sides, so that peace can find a way to resolve a problem."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled out talks with Russia as he met with the delegation.

Senior officials from Uganda, Egypt and The Congo are also part of the delegation. They will head to Moscow on Saturday (June 17).

As of May 8, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded 23,606 civilian casualties in Ukraine.

The African peace overture comes as Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to dislodge the Kremlin’s forces from occupied areas, using advanced weapons supplied by countries including the United States, France, The UK or Germany in attacks along the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line. 

China presented its own peace proposal at the end of February.

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