Kyiv was shaken by two explosions on Friday, coinciding with the arrival of an African peace mission aimed at mediating between Ukraine and Russia.
The delegation, consisting of leaders from South Africa, Senegal, the Comoros, and Egypt, planned to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before engaging in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg the following day.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing the explosions in central Kyiv, while Mayor Vitali Klitschko confirmed additional explosions in the central Podil district. He warned that more missiles were heading toward the capital.
A Reuters correspondent spotted the smoke trail of two missiles in the air, but it remained unclear whether they were launched by Russia or Ukrainian air defenses.
The African leaders arrived in Kyiv in a convoy of cars and sought refuge in a hotel’s air-raid shelter.
Prior to their visit to Kyiv, they traveled to Bucha, near the capital, where Ukraine alleges that Russian troops committed significant atrocities during their full-scale invasion in February 2022. Russia denies these allegations.
According to a draft framework document seen by Reuters, the African peace mission, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President Macky Sall, may propose a series of “confidence-building measures” as part of initial mediation efforts.
The objective of the mission, as outlined in the document, is to emphasize the importance of peace and encourage both parties to engage in a diplomatic negotiation process.
These measures could involve a Russian troop withdrawal, the removal of tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, the suspension of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant targeting Putin, and the easing of sanctions, among other possibilities.
The mission comes at a time when Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive that has pushed Russian forces back in certain areas, although Kyiv has only regained a fraction of the territory occupied by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Kyiv insists that its own peace initiative, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian land, must serve as the foundation for any resolution to the conflict. – TimesLIVE