Ukraine war: South Africa sides with Russia

Ukraine war: South Africa sides with Russia

The guest from Russia was greeted with a smile and a double handshake and immediately shown to the “VIP room” of the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pretoria. It may have been a while since Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov received such a warm welcome as was greeted by his South African counterpart on Monday. “I’m proud that we maintain excellent diplomatic relations,” said Naledi Pandor, which Lavrov naturally agreed with.

The Russian Foreign Minister has already set out on his second trip to Africa since the attack on the Ukraine did. After South Africa, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Botswana and Angola are to go – all countries that have so far not really criticized Russia’s war of aggression. To keep it that way, Lavrov is now paying a friendly visit.

He is particularly pleased with South Africa’s position, since the foreign minister criticized the Russian invasion immediately after the war began and called for an immediate “withdrawal”. Pandor then had to do it himself because the criticism of Putin was not in the interests of the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who values ​​his country’s “neutral” behavior. If only because of historical ties, as a thank you for Moscow once supporting the ANC in the struggle for independence.

In the meantime, however, it is becoming increasingly difficult to describe South Africa’s position as neutral. Asked if she had again urged the Russian visitor to withdraw from Ukraine, Pandor said the situation today was completely different, largely because there had been a “massive transfer of arms” since then. Asking Russia to withdraw is therefore too “simplistic and childish”.

The government’s closeness to Russia also triggers harsh criticism

An attitude that pleased Lavrov. He used the stage in the hall of the Foreign Ministry for lengthy lectures, and the Russian state press that had traveled with him was allowed to provide keywords from time to time. Sometimes our colleague Pandor also spoke, many of her sentences could have come from the guest himself. She castigated the “neo-colonial world order” and criticized the “deformation” of the international media South Africa would only criticize because it is a poor developing country in Africa.

She was specifically concerned with a military maneuver that is to be held in February with ships from China and Russia off the South African coast. That’s “completely normal,” said Pandor, especially in countries with which relations are as good as they are with Russia. That sends one of its most modern warships, the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov”; she is with zircon-Armed with missiles capable of traveling at nine times the speed of sound.

In South Africa, the planned maneuver has triggered a lot of criticism. In a survey, three quarters of those questioned spoke out against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the South African government is openly siding with Russia,” said Darren Bergman, MP for the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party.

The endowment of the late Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu was even clearer: “The maneuver is tantamount to a declaration that South Africa has joined the war on the side of Russia. (…) The decision to actively support Russia’s military interests is ultimately the surrender of South Africa’s hard-earned reputation as a moral bastion of human rights.” The foundation recalled the words of Tutu, who once said: “If you are neutral in unjust situations, you side with the oppressor.” In the fall, the South African government wants to invite Vladimir Putin to the summit of the Brics states, which also include China and Russia. It will probably be another meeting of good friends.

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