South Africa urges UNSC to intervene in Russia-Ukraine conflict

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA): South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa urged the UN Security Council on Friday to intervene in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“The UN Security Council should be engaged in the negotiation process. It is not necessary for people to be killed when the options of mediation, negotiation and engagement are available,’’ he said during a meeting of the inaugural Intergovernmental National Litigation Forum in the capital, Pretoria.

Ramaphosa said some leaders were disappointed that the meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin did not happen because if it did, the current crisis could have been avoided.

The remarks by the president came barely one day after the Foreign Ministry urged Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine in line with the UN Charter, which enjoins all member states to settle international disputes by peaceful means.

In a statement Thursday, South Africa emphasized that it respects the territory and the integrity of other states.

“As a nation birthed through negotiation, South Africa is always appreciative of the potential dialogue has in averting a crisis and de-escalating conflict. In line with our strong commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict, South Africa urges all parties to devote increased efforts to diplomacy and to find a solution that will help avert further escalation,’’ said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Several western nations, including the US and the UK, have condemned the Russian invasion and responded with sanctions.

US placed sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials on Friday. Earlier, EU imposed sanctions on Putin and Lavrov, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said Britain would introduce imminent sanctions on the Russian leaders.

Meanwhile, Russia vetoed a UN draft resolution Friday that would have condemned Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine.

Drafted by the US and Albania, the resolution was also seeking to hold Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine, reaffirm Ukraine’s sovereignty and demand that Moscow withdraw its forces.

“The result of the voting is as follows: 11 votes in favor, one vote against, three abstentions,” said Russian envoy to UN Vassily Nebenzia, who chairs the Council this month.

China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained.

The South African government urged parties to continue negotiating because the door of diplomacy can never be closed even as conflict breaks out.

“We also urge all parties to approach the situation in a spirit of compromise, with all sides respecting international law,” it said. “In light of the escalating conflict, we call on all parties to resume diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the concerns raised expressed by Russia,’’

Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine entered its third day Saturday with the latest reports indicating that Russian troops were heading toward the capital, Kyiv, from several directions.

Putin ordered the military intervention Thursday, days after recognizing two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine.

He claimed that Moscow had no plan to occupy the neighboring country but wanted to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to install a puppet government and said Ukrainians will defend their country against Russian aggression.

[Photo: Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze at a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, early Friday, the second day of Russia’s military invasion on February 25, 2022. Photo provided by Ukraine Emergency Ministry/AA]

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