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Putin Discusses Ukraine War with African Leaders, Insists on Kiev’s Neutrality

July 29, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—After the conclusion yesterday of the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a separate meeting on July 28 with representatives of several African countries that had made a peace proposal for the Ukraine crisis. Putin explained to them, according to the transcript on the Kremlin website, that Ukraine’s permanent neutrality is a sine qua non of Russian security. He also told the African leaders: “As I said, we have thoroughly considered both your approach and your ideas for a peace settlement. They actually reiterate provisions of the peace plan that the People’s Republic of China proposed in February to resolve the situation around Ukraine.”

In the 1990 document that ushered in Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, Putin continued: “Obviously, I will not dwell on the details of what we agreed upon as this would probably be inappropriate. But let me remind you—not everyone knows this but we know it perfectly well—that Kiev gained its independence upon the collapse of the Soviet Union under the Declaration of Independence, which clearly states that Ukraine is a neutral state—and for us, this has fundamental importance. The reasons the West started drawing Ukraine into NATO are not very clear to us.

“We believe this is what poses a fundamental threat to our security, because the advancement of the hostile military alliance’s infrastructure towards our borders is unacceptable,” he said.

Putin explained earlier in his remarks:

“Colleagues, I hope that you have a clear understanding of the nature and origins of the crisis. In any case we tried to make our view on that problem clear. We believe that the problem did not arise yesterday; it was provoked by some forces in the West which have been preparing for a hybrid war against our country for many years. They did everything to turn Ukraine into a tool to undermine the security foundations of the Russian Federation, to harm Russia’s positions in the world and to undermine our statehood. I am saying this with good reason. This is the first point....

“But the second problem that led to the current crisis is exactly the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014. It was essentially an anti-constitutional violent armed state coup, which was actively supported by Western countries that ignored all norms of international law....”

the Russian President said.

After referencing the African peace proposal’s likeness to the Feb. 24, 2023 China peace proposal, Putin went on: “For our part, we have never refused to take part in negotiations; we have always stated publicly that we are prepared for further dialogue.

“As I said at our previous meeting in St. Petersburg [on June 17], a draft agreement had been basically coordinated. But after we withdrew our troops from the area near Kiev, which we were asked to do to create conditions for a final peace treaty, the Ukrainian authorities abandoned all previous agreements. So I believe that the ball is absolutely in their court.”

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