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Ukraine’s ambassador calls for two-sided talks – and for Ramaphosa to call the ‘situation’ a war

People protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine at North Beach, Durban on 6 March 2022. Protests have erupted around the world, with thousands of people taking to the streets in support of Ukraine. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

While she supported any help to end the deaths in Ukraine, Liubov Abravitova worried that Cyril Ramaphosa’s phone call with Vladimir Putin signalled a ‘new’ kind of mediation – a one-sided affair.

Ukraine’s ambassador Liubov Abravitova says President Cyril Ramaphosa has not asked her to arrange a call with her president, Volodymyr Zelensky, so that South Africa might act as a mediator of peace talks.

She was responding to Ramaphosa’s telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Ramaphosa tweeted afterwards that he had been asked – by an unnamed party – to mediate, and seemed to be prepared to accept the role.

Abravitova publicly called on South Africa recently to mediate in the conflict, but she told Daily Maverick on Friday that she didn’t think Ramaphosa could have been referring to her.

“I was calling to South Africa to mediate, to call on Russia to provide ceasefire, to call to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine,” she said.

“I was not approached to organise a telephone call with my president, not on presidential level. Maybe this is the new form of mediation – only with one, aggressive side, which is committing the massive crimes of war and violations of all possible norms of international law. And, importantly, during the human rights month in South Africa, honours its president to take his call.”

This referred to Ramaphosa’s tweet thanking Putin for taking his call. 

Abravitova said she recently told the media that any mediation assistance and platform which could stop war and deaths in Ukraine would be supported.

“Then I was asked, do I believe that Mr Ramaphosa could negotiate? I said, of course, he is a well-known and professional negotiator.”

But she added: “I believe negotiations are between two sides. And two sides must confirm the negotiator. I’m worried when the negotiator doesn’t call ‘war’ the war,” Abravitova said, referring to Ramaphosa’s social media statement in which he said he had called Putin to “gain an understanding of the situation that was unfolding between Russia and Ukraine.” DM



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