Russian-Ukrainian crisis and African mediators

On October 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with the President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo, also President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The agenda included topics such as the development of bilateral relations, topical regional and international issues and Russia’s engagement with ECOWAS, including preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit scheduled for July 2023.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, good morning.

I’m very glad to see you. Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, but this is the first meeting of presidents, heads of state. We are very happy to see you in Russia.

Throughout Guinea-Bissau’s history, from its struggle for independence and subsequently, during the formation of the state of Guinea-Bissau, Russia – both the Soviet Union and the Russia – and your country have always maintained very good and very warm relations. And today, we continue to develop the same relationships.

Of course, we still have a lot to do to promote trade, economic and cultural ties, although even now, taking into account cooperation in the field of education, the situation is developing rather positively.

I know that you are now the head of the Economic Community of West African States, with 400 million people living in its member countries and an overall GDP of US$550 billion. And in general, Russia has a very decent trade with it and, above all, very good trade growth.

We hope that a significant contribution will also be made to the development of relations with Guinea-Bissau, with the Member States of ECOWAS and with the entire African continent during your presidency of this organization.

As you know, in 2019 we held a very successful Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi. We plan to hold a similar summit next July in our northern capital, St. Petersburg. Mr President, we are very happy to see you. Welcome to Russia!

President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo (translated): Thank you.

I think it’s very important that our relationship grows and adapts. Guinea-Bissau has also historically been a staunch partner of Russia and the Soviet Union.

I also represent ECOWAS, so I will convey a message from all its member states.

You can see that the current situation regarding the war between two sister nations, Russia and Ukraine, as well as grain and fertilizers, has stalled progress around the world. Its very important. We believe and hope that we can find a way to establish a dialogue between the two sister nations.

I also think it is crucial that President Putin tells us what he can do to resolve this conflict. Africa’s position in this context actually shows that what Russia brings to the world is very important.

I would also like to say that we are partners and that we would like to discuss security issues in West Africa.

Russia is present in all the countries of the world; you have embassies everywhere. We would also like to discuss important issues, such as the role you play in the world. I came as a brother and friend, of course.

Russian media reports:

African leader delivers ‘message’ from Putin to Zelensky

Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo, the President of Guinea-Bissau, claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had asked him to convey a “message” to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on the importance of “live chat” between Moscow and Kyiv. Embalo made the revelation during a joint press conference with Zelensky in Kyiv, a day after his meeting with Putin.

“My dear brother, yesterday I was in Russia with the President [Vladimir] Putin, who asked me to give you a message, to talk to you, considering that a direct dialogue is very important for our future joint actions”, said Embalo.

A video of the press conference was posted on Zelensky’s Telegram channel, with Embalo’s remarks translated into Ukrainian.

The President of Guinea-Bissau also revealed that he considers himself the “bearer of certain impulses” contributing to the restoration of relations between Russia and Ukraine.

Before his meeting with Zelensky, Embalo told reporters that he had found Putin “to be very open to negotiation with President Zelensky” and he was looking forward “to transmit this good will” to the Ukrainian leader.

Zelensky, responding at the press conference to Embalo’s remarks, said that to build bridges between countries, “we must not blow up the infrastructure.” Zelensky was apparently referring to strikes on Ukrainian power plants launched by Russia on October 10 in what Moscow described as retaliation against Kyiv forces. “terrorist attack” on the Crimean Bridge. The Ukrainian leader also said that any conversation involves the respect of one country for another, starting with respect “its territorial integrity, sovereignty and borders.(Source: Russia Today)

No special message to Zelensky sent by Putin via Guinea-Bissau president — Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not convey any particular message about a possible dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv to his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky via Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters .

“Our colleague from the African state expressed his will, he said that he would have contacts and that he would convey Putin’s position to the Ukrainian side. There is no specific message in this case and it was not discussed,” the Kremlin official replied when asked if the Russian leader had sent such a message. Earlier, Embalo said that this message would have existed.

Putin’s press secretary explained that during a recent conversation with Guinea-Bissau’s president in the Kremlin, “Putin briefed his colleague on the March talks and the work of the Russian and Ukrainian negotiating teams.”

“He said that the text was almost ready, that a very complex balance had been reached and suddenly the Ukrainian side went off the radar, said his reluctance to continue the talks and later this reluctance practically turned into a law that prohibited the Ukrainian side and the Ukrainian president, and everyone else, from conducting negotiations with Russia and with President Putin,” Peskov added.

“That said, the [Russian] The president apparently pointed out that this reluctance to negotiate and the rejection of previously coordinated agreements had clearly occurred at the behest of Washington. It is quite obvious,” the Kremlin spokesman concluded.

He noted that “currently, de facto, Russia does not change its position, we are ready to guarantee our interests at the negotiating table, we want to, but in this case it is the complete reluctance of the part of Ukraine”. (Source: TASS)

Christi C. Elwood