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SA makes bland statement at UN on invasion of Ukraine, likely to abstain from vote condemning Russia

SA makes bland statement at UN on invasion of Ukraine, likely to abstain from vote condemning Russia
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Brussels International Airport in Belgium and is received by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor. The President was attending the 6th AU-EU Summit taking place from 17-18 February 2022. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda)

South Africa delivered a non-committal, even-handed statement on Tuesday in the emergency United Nations General Assembly special session on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ambassador Mathu Joyini did not say how South Africa would vote on Wednesday on a resolution to condemn Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and to demand it withdraw its military forces from its neighbour.

But her equivocal statement, which failed to criticise Russia, suggested that Pretoria would probably abstain from the vote. 

That would reinforce suggestions that President Ramaphosa has effectively rescinded a statement issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation last Thursday which called on Moscow to withdraw and to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Ramaphosa was reportedly upset by that statement, apparently cleared personally by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor. Ramaphosa evidently had to reassure Russian ambassador Ilya Rogachev that Dirco’s statement did not accurately reflect Pretoria’s position. 

The rare special emergency session of the General Assembly was called after Russia vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council condemning its “aggression” against Ukraine.

Under UN rules, the General Assembly may meet to consider a security issue if the Security Council is unable to address it due to a veto by one of its permanent members. 

Though the General Assembly does not have the Security Council’s power to enforce its decisions, a successful General Assembly resolution condemning Russia would be politically embarrassing for Moscow.

It would require a two-thirds majority of UN General Assembly members to adopt the resolution. 

In her statement, Joyini said South Africa was deeply concerned by the conflict and welcomed the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. 

“South Africa is of the view that this armed conflict, like all others, will result in unnecessary human suffering and destruction with global ramifications. In situations of conflict, the most vulnerable tend to suffer most, during and post the conflict.”

She noted that the “Charter of the United Nations enjoins all member states to settle their disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered”.  

“We urge all parties to approach the situation in a spirit of compromise, with all sides upholding human rights, abiding by their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law. 

“A diplomatic solution to the problem should address the security concerns of the parties,” Joyini said. 

If South Africa does abstain from the resolution on Wednesday, as this statement suggests, it will bring the country back into line with the other members of the BRICS bloc. BRICS also comprises Brazil, Russia, India and China. None of the other members has so far condemned Russia for the invasion or called for it to withdraw. DM


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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Craig B says:

    What a mess

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    The stance that South Africa is adopting of remaining aligned with BRICS on this crisis is incredibly unfortunate and out of sync with the international community and means that it is becoming increasingly isolated diplomatically, and will be increasingly detrimental. South Africa really needs to reconsider this approach, the benefits of being a member of BRICS are really not at all apparent, and being associated with the grouping and supporting their actions is increasingly inconsistent with supporting human rights and democracy. Adopting a neutral stance in this case effectively is appeasing an autocratic state that is violating international law and has invaded a neighbouring country. While the point about the UN, and especially the security council being in need of reform has merit, the reality is that in it’s current form, it is only through the members of the General Assembly strongly condemning the action with a united voice that it may have a significant impact. And unfortunately, South Africa’s statement blunts that message. South Africa really needs to reconsider its stance, and support the resolution in the UN General Assembly, and not abstain.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    All this confirms is that the anc doesn’t and never has respected the sovereignty of anyone.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Imagine the UK invaded Zimbabwe… there is no doubt how the ANC would have reacted then. The only differences are race (of the victims) and ideology (of the invaders) and with that the ANC openly declares where they stand, and who they are – a racist state pretending to be a democracy.

  • virginia crawford says:

    When Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded, and civilians bombed, where was the UN then? Why no sanctions and similar outrage while Saudi Arabia is bombing civilians in Yemen? What about Syria? I don’t support Putin, but the hypocrisy, double standards and hidden agendas are not confined to S.A.. What has received little attention is the issue of why NATO, a military alliance, is hellbent on expanding east and ready to scoop up all former USSR satellite countries. It was provocative and Putin’s demand that Ukraine not join NATO and be neutral is not that outlandish. How would we feel if our neighbors formed a military alliance and got armed by the US? Putin’s behaviour is appalling and the suffering will be global, but the responsibility also lies at the door of NATO, the UN and the western diplomatic corps. No one predicted or foresaw this? Wow! Big profits for the western arms manufacturers, high oil prices for the US – so not bad news for all.

    • Sydney Kaye says:

      NATO was formed precisely to protect Europe from Russia. And for good reason it turns out. The ” former satalite countrues,as you call them, we’re not satalites by consent and as soon as they broke free ran to NATO for protection in case if a next time, which gas now happened.

    • James Miller says:

      NATO is a *defensive* pact. It is not “hell bent on expanding east” it is simply open to countries joining of their free will, and many, including Ukraine, want to join because of the obvious, and now demonstrated, threat from Russia. Putin’s demand IS outlandish, and his pretense of being threatened by Ukraine has been aptly described as the fox standing on top of the hen house professing fear of the chickens. The fox is now eating the chickens, but some people are–for whatever reason–blind to the reality.

  • Rob vZ says:

    Thankfully, and unfortunately, no one takes SA seriously on the world stage anymore. The Mandela currency was largely misspent. And considering how similar the political elites in our country mimic Russian kleptocracy, I don’t think anyone expects us to do the right thing.
    Depressing for the rest of “us”, much like Russian citizens, we are pawns of a gangster state. But hopefully the conflict is reckoning against all gangster states, including our own.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    what a miserable attempt at defending the indefensible by our UN ambassador. she actually looked embarrassed as she babbled out what she really did not want to babble, clearly stated her masters voice.
    Mr President, hang your head in shame as you now paint all of us with the same brush because you do not have the guts to roundly condemn the invasion of an independent country by a maniac. the Russian ambassador to SA must be booted out if you want to save some face. disgusting Sir and all your marxist/solialistic/communist fools.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    She noted that the “Charter of the United Nations enjoins all member states to settle their disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered”.
    It also prohibits aggressive war.

  • Tim Price says:

    Pathetic totalitarian kleptocrats stick together at all costs. The more the ANC government falls over itself, the more we see their true colours.

  • Danie Louw says:

    Direct donations by Russia into the empty coffers of the ANC could be part explanation for the ANC’s hypocrisy re Ukraine. Regardless, the equivocal stance by the ANC in the face of a ruthless, premeditated campaign of murder and destruction against those who are mere bystanders relative to Putin’s ego trip, strips the ANC of the right to comment about matters relating to justice and truth. Compare the ANC ‘ hysteria and mobilization of resources on perceiving racial innuendo. Perspective hopelessly lost. Cyril seems to be devoid of compassion for the vulnerable and the destitute. One would think that struggle heroes would step up and be counted in the face of such atrocities.. regardless of who the victims are…and yes, Cyril, taking a stand comes at a price ; Vladimir will be do the same to us if it suits his purpose. They came for the Jews..etc and you did nothing Cyril.

  • Rod Gurzynski says:

    South Africa abstained. There is nothing more cowardly than to abstain on a moral issue.

  • Peter Theron Theron says:

    Shame on you Ramaphosa, shame on you.

  • Lionel Willis says:

    Some news media are pointing to incidents in Ukraine as being racist. It appears a number African people are being turned away from boarding trains and only Ukrainians are allowed to board. I wish to point out that 35 countries abstained from voting at the recent United Nations meeting. A wapping 17 African countries abstained from voting and in addition, 4 African countries didn’t vote at all! Ukrainian people are not blind to the fact that Africans in effect support Russia. This is not a reaction grounded in racism but a dislike of Russian supporters.

  • Roy Williams says:

    grow a pair, comrades.

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