A SEPARATE REALITY
Huh? In Moscow, Defence Minister Thandi Modise calls for ‘warmongers’ to be dragged to the ‘table of peace’
Modise issued her diatribe against warmongers in the capital of a country that is waging an unprovoked war against its much smaller neighbour Ukraine.
Warmongers “must be dragged kicking and screaming to the table of peace and multilateralism”, Defence Minister Thandi Modise told a conference on international security in Moscow on Tuesday.
Modise issued her diatribe against warmongers in the capital of a country that is currently waging an unprovoked war against its much smaller neighbour, Ukraine.
Presumably, she did not mean for Russia to be included among the “warmongers” who should be dragged to the peace table. And so her remarks, read in isolation, sounded as though she was delivering them somewhere else, far away, like Switzerland.
‘International peace crusade’
All the delegates — who included defence ministers from 35 African, Asian and Latin American countries — were participating in an “international peace crusade,” Modise asserted.
“I am confident that we will emerge from this conference stronger and more united in our determination to continue building a peaceful world,” she said.
“The objectives of this conference are consistent with Africa’s vision of creating a peaceful and conflict-free continent. We will never tire, as Africa, in our collective determination to make ‘Silencing the Guns’, African Union’s flagship project of Agenda 2063, a reality.”
Modise added: “South Africa is one of the key players in peacemaking in our continent. Hopefully, this conference will expose us to new practical and innovative strategies and approaches to address problems confronting Africa.”
South Africa was always ready to engage in the resolution of conflict, Modise said, rather than encouraging the “might is right” phenomenon.
South Africa strongly believed “that proxy wars must stop”, she added. Perhaps this was a clue to the apparent incongruity of her remarks. Maybe South Africa sees Ukraine as a mere proxy in a war between the West and Russia rather than an independent nation being systematically destroyed by Russian artillery.
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“Through our own silence, inaction and selective morality, we have allowed warlords to reign supreme across the world,” Modise said. “The world can no longer afford to be held to ransom by warmongers. They must be dragged kicking and screaming to the table of peace and multilateralism.”
The Ukrainian Association of South Africa said it was shocked that South Africa’s defence minister was attending the conference “after almost six months of Russian Federation’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine…”
The SA government had all along been declaring itself as neutral and non-aligned in the war — but South Africa had now shown itself as not neutral.
By continuing military cooperation with Russia, it was supporting the killings of civilians and children in Ukraine.
The association said Modise’s ministry had said in a statement on Monday announcing her attendance at the conference that “South Africa stands ready to work with all peace-loving nations of the world”.
“But Russia is NOT a peace-loving country,” the association said. More than 2,000 Russian missiles had destroyed hundreds of hospitals, schools, shopping malls and civilian apartments in peaceful Ukraine. Russia was also posing a nuclear threat to the world by damaging equipment and radioactive materials at the Chernobyl nuclear power station and by occupying and bombing the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.
Russia was also committing systematic and widespread war crimes in Ukraine, including raping women and torturing and shooting hundreds of civilians with their arms tied.
During the past 30 years, Russia had invaded Moldova (1992-1993), suppressed Chechnya (1999-2009), invaded Georgia (2008), invaded Ukraine (2022), annexed Crimea (2014) and intervened in Syria (2015), the association said.
It noted that the SA defence ministry had said one of the aims of the Moscow conference was to “share practical ideas and explore solutions on matters of global security”.
But by attending the conference, Modise was learning from a “terrorist country” that was violating international law and human rights and had created one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, forcing almost 13 million Ukrainians to flee their homes.
If South Africa truly “stands ready to contribute meaningfully towards lasting peace in the world”, as the defence ministry had said, it should “immediately cease all military-related cooperation with Russia, the aggressor country, and condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine as it distorts a peaceful world order”. DM