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15 May, 2023 15:07

South Africa explains neutrality in Russia-Ukraine conflict

President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country will abide by its long-standing non-aligned foreign policy, despite pressure
South Africa explains neutrality in Russia-Ukraine conflict

South Africa will not depart from its decades-old foreign policy of non-alignment, despite considerable external pressure, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said. Commenting on the Ukraine conflict, the leader described it as a faceoff between Russia and the West, and something that Pretoria does not want to be part of.

In a statement to the nation published on Monday, Ramaphosa stressed that since the end of Apartheid in 1994 South Africa has consistently “pursued an independent foreign policy.” One of its main tenets has been the refusal to join any power blocs, the president insisted, adding that the country advocated an “inclusive multilateral world order.

Throughout, we have been firm on this point: South Africa has not been, and will not be, drawn into a contest between global powers,” Ramaphosa said.

However, much like other African nations, South Africa has come under “extraordinary pressure” to change its long-standing approach since the start of Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine, the leader stated.

Ramaphosa insisted that South Africa’s neutrality does not amount to support for Russia.

We do not accept that our non-aligned position favors Russia above other countries. Nor do we accept that it should imperil our relations with other countries,” he argued.

Pretoria’s position is that Kiev and Moscow should sit at the negotiating table and resolve their differences politically, Ramaphosa added.

His statement lamented the “weaknesses in the structure and practices” of the United Nations, which he claimed have been highlighted by the conflict. The South African leader also called for an overhaul of the UN Security Council, asserting that its makeup is not representative of the “current global landscape.

Speaking in parliament last Wednesday, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor warned that conflicts between major global powers pose a threat to “all the smaller economies of the world.

She concluded by saying that today’s world is “not the world many hoped for when the Cold War ended.