Russian President Vladimir Putin met with seven African leaders in St. Petersburg on Saturday. He used the opportunity to justify the invasion of Ukraine, and indicate his intention to boost ties with African nations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President Macky Sall were among the leaders.
Putin told them that he welcomes the "balanced stance" of African nations on the Ukraine crisis. He also said the situation shouldn't cause African countries to suffer.
Earlier this month, the Russian president said his country is considering withdrawing from a grain export deal reached with Ukraine. He also said Russia might deliver grain free of charge to African nations.
South African President Ramaphosa said the delegation wants to deliver a clear message that the war needs to end. He noted that prices of energy and fertilizer are soaring in Africa.
The delegation had met earlier on Friday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.