By Spy Uganda Correspondent
At least two explosions rocked Kyiv on Friday and air raid sirens blared as African leaders began a peace mission, hoping to mediate between Ukraine and Russia.
The peace delegation, including leaders from South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, the Comoros and Egypt, said it was pressing on with plans to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later on Friday, before talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday.
Ukraine’s air force said it had downed six “Kinzhal” ballistic missiles, six cruise missiles and two drones. City authorities said they had received no reports of deaths or serious damage so far, but police said there were an unspecified number of casualties.
The air attack was the latest of many launched by Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow has increased their frequency since Ukraine began preparations for a counteroffensive that is now under way.
“Putin ‘builds confidence’ by launching the largest missile attack on Kyiv in weeks, exactly amid the visit of African leaders to our capital,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “Russian missiles are a message to Africa: Russia wants more war, not peace.”
The African leaders had begun their trip by visiting Bucha, a town outside Kyiv where Ukraine says Russian occupiers carried out executions, rapes and torture, and where international investigators are collecting evidence of war crimes. Russia denies the allegations.
The peace mission, which includes South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President Macky Sall, could propose a series of “confidence building measures” during initial efforts at mediation, according to a draft framework document.
The document says the objective of the mission is to promote peace and encourage the parties to agree to a diplomacy-led process.
Those measures could include a pullback of Russian troops, removal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, suspension of implementation of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant targeting Putin, and relief from the Western sanctions imposed on Russia, it indicated.
An agreement on cessation of hostilities could follow, and would need to be accompanied by negotiations between Russia and the West, the document stated.
Kyiv says its own peace initiative, which envisages the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian land, must be the basis for any settlement of the war.