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Missiles blast Kyiv as Ramaphosa is to meet with leader of war-torn Ukraine

President Cyril Ramaphosa was officiating in the swearing in of new Cabinet ministers in March.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is meeting with his counterpart in Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky for a peaceful solution to the conflict. photographer Ayanda Ndamane / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 16, 2023


Explosions rocked Kyiv as President Cyril Ramaphosa and other African leaders prepared to meet with Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky on a peace mission.

The Ukrainian air force reported that 12 missiles and two drones were launched from the Black Sea, but they were successfully shot down by the country's air defense system.

Earlier, a confrontation occurred between Ramaphosa's security team and Polish officials when they were denied permission to disembark from their chartered flight in Warsaw.

While Ramaphosa travelled to Kyiv by train, his additional security team remained on the chartered flight. Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa's spokesperson, expressed regret over the incident and assured the public that the president's safety was not compromised.

Efforts were being made to resolve the impasse with Polish counterparts so that the Presidential Protection Services team and the media could proceed with their planned journey, including covering the peace talks in Russia.

Opposition leaders criticized the organization of the trip, highlighting the lack of an advanced team to address potential issues on the ground upon the arrival of Ramaphosa's security team.

Bantu Holomisa, leader of the UDM, blamed poor planning by the presidential team and questioned the flight plan. He emphasized the need for an advance team to handle logistics and ensure timely clearance for weapons. DA leader John Steenhuisen also expressed concern about the size of Ramaphosa's delegation, calling it an embarrassment and questioning the expenses incurred by South African taxpayers.

Ramaphosa eventually arrived in Kyiv via train, where he was greeted by South Africa's ambassador to Ukraine and a Ukrainian official.

He, along with other African leaders, visited a mass grave in Bucha where 458 people lost their lives. The scheduled meeting between Ramaphosa, the African leaders, and President Zelensky was set to take place on Friday.

Prior to their arrival in Kyiv, a standoff occurred in Warsaw between Ramaphosa's security team and Polish authorities, with Major-General Wally Rhoode, head of the presidential protection unit, stating that the actions of the Poles compromised Ramaphosa's security.

The main point of contention was the permits carried by the security team, although Rhoode insisted that all necessary documentation was in order.

Following the meeting with Zelensky, Ramaphosa and the African leaders planned to travel to St. Petersburg to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday, as part of their mediation efforts between Ukraine and Russia.

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