Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to South Africa on Monday to meet with one of his country’s most important allies on an African continent where countries are still divided by the invasion of Ukraine and Western attempts to isolate Moscow.
In Pretoria, Lavrov met his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government considers South Africa neutral in the Ukraine conflict and has expressed its desire to play a mediating role.
“As South Africans, we constantly affirm that we will always be ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the African continent and around the world.”Pandor said in her speech, alongside Mr. Lavrov.
South Africa has little trade with Russia, but Pretoria shares with China and Russia a world view without US hegemony and instead prefers a “multipolar” world in which geopolitical power is more balanced.
Ms. Pandor has repeatedly insisted that South Africa will not allow itself to take sides in the Ukraine conflict, and has criticized the West for condemning Russia while ignoring other issues such as Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
South Africa has declared its neutrality on the Ukraine conflict and has abstained from voting on UN resolutions while maintaining close ties with Russia, a longtime ally of the African National Congress (ANC, the ruling party). When it was still a liberation movement opposed to white minority rule during apartheid.
South Africa’s military is scheduled to hold joint exercises with Russia and China on its east coast from February 17-27, threatening to escalate tensions with the United States and European countries.
The maneuvers coincide with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, a Russian warship equipped with next-generation hypersonic cruise weapons will participate in the exercise.
Sergey Lavrov’s second African visit comes within six months before the Russia-Africa summit scheduled for July.
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