🔴 Live: African leaders visit Ukraine in self-proclaimed bid to broker peace
African leaders are expected in Ukraine on Friday in a self-professed bid to broker peace between Kyiv and Moscow, despite three presidents dropping out and Ukraine’s counteroffensive overshadowing the mission. Kyiv claims it has retaken 100 square kilometres in the past few days, and there are reports of fierce fighting in parts of eastern Donbas. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
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08:07am: African leaders head to Ukraine for ill-starred peace mission
African leaders are expected in Ukraine on Friday in a self-professed bid to broker peace between Kyiv and Moscow.
Four presidents – from South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Comoros – and three representatives are due to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv before heading to Saint Petersburg on Saturday to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. African countries have been divided over their response to the war, with some siding with Ukraine, while others have remained neutral or gravitated towards Moscow.
The high-profile diplomatic team hopes to bring to the table the voice of a continent that has been badly hit by rising grain prices and the wider impact on global trade since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. But the African mission’s chances to secure a proper peace look incredibly thin, with both Kyiv and Moscow convinced they can win on the battlefield, analysts say.
[ARRIVAL]: His Excellency President @CyrilRamaphosa has arrived at Nemishaeve Railway Station in Ukraine and is received by Ukraine’s Special Envoy for Africa & the Middle East Ambassador Maksym Subhk and South African Ambassador to Ukraine Mr Andre Groenewald.… pic.twitter.com/Jk8V8n2v9O
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) June 16, 2023
10:25pm: IAEA spokesman says gunfire briefly halted convoy, but no immediate danger
A spokesman for the UN’s nuclear watchdog said on Thursday that gunfire briefly halted a convoy heading back to Ukrainian-held territory after a visit to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, but the delegation was in no immediate danger.
“Convoy was stopped and gunfire was distinctly heard for a few minutes but the convoy was not in immediate danger. The agency doesn’t have any other information about the incident,” a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency told Reuters.
Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of the Rosenergoatom company, was earlier cited by Tass news agency as accusing Ukraine of opening fire at the convoy, headed by IAEA General Director Rafael Mariano Grossi.
That report said no one was hurt and that the convoy had returned safely to the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia.
The delegation had been visiting the Zaporizhzhia station, where Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of repeated shelling since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year that could compromise nuclear safety.
9:52pm: Lack of water one of multiple safety concerns at Zaporizhzhia power plant
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday that “measures are being taken” to ensure security at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant following a large-scale dam breach nearby, but lack of access to water is not the only safety concern at the nuclear station.
In addition to fears of the plant being hit by a stray rocket, “it’s occupied by Russian forces, and the Ukrainians routinely accuse Russians of placing military equipment right inside the reactor buildings”, says FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Ukraine.
9:26pm: US criticises Russia in annual human trafficking report
The US sharpened its criticism of Russia’s record on human trafficking on Thursday, citing Moscow’s treatment of conscripts and Ukrainian children, in an annual report on countries that Washington says are failing to protect victims.
The State Department’s 2023 Trafficking in Persons report kept Russia on a list of “state sponsors” of human trafficking and ranked Russia among the world’s worst at addressing the problem.
A section on Russia included more criticism than last year of Moscow’s detention of people in Ukraine. The report also cited the “forcible transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia” which is also the subject of an International Criminal Court prosecution against Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin.
“There were also reports of Russian officials forcing, deceiving, or coercing foreign national adults to fight in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” it added.
Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how the day’s events unfolded.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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