Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting Saturday with a delegation of African leaders on a peace mission led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The meeting in St. Petersburg comes hours after Putin confirmed that Moscow has started moving nuclear weapons into Belarus.
The African delegation — which also includes leaders of Senegal, Egypt, Zambia and the Comoros — met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Friday, when the Ukrainian capital was hit by Russian airstrikes.
After Friday’s session in Kyiv, Zelenskyy said he could not see any outcome from a meeting between the African delegation and Putin, repeating that peace talks would be possible only after Russia withdraws from Ukrainian territory.
Ties between the South African government — which leads the delegation — and Moscow have raised criticisms, especially among American officials, with the U.S. ambassador to South Africa accusing Pretoria of supplying weapons to Moscow.
Last month, South Africa’s army chief Lawrence Mbatha visited Moscow to discuss military bilateral relations.
The African delegations’ trip to Ukraine and Russia comes as tensions between Putin and the West are escalating. On Friday, the Russian president said Moscow already delivered some nuclear warheads to Belarus and will continue doing so during the summer.