Ukraine FA insists South Africa’s partnership with Russia ‘makes no sense’

Pretoria – Activists under the banner of the non-profit organization Ukrainian Association of South Africa seethed this week as Pretoria announced moves interpreted by some as openly nailing its flag to the Russian pole amid the armed conflict between Moscow and neighboring Kyiv .

When Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor warmly welcomed Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to her headquarters in the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria, her department made it clear that Russia had been invited to a trip to South Africa.

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From the other side of Pretoria, Defense Secretary and military veteran Thandi Modise took the opportunity to hit back at critics of the upcoming joint mass military exercise that would bring Russian and Chinese artillery to the shores of South Africa.

The former Speaker of Parliament reminded critics that South Africa’s armed forces had clashed with counterparts including Britain, the People’s Republic of China, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana in recent months.

The Minister for International Relations, Dr. Naledi Pandor during talks with Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pretoria. Image file: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

“There hasn’t been any hype about any of these countries, particularly in relation to the United States of America, where we held an even longer exercise called Exercise Shared ACCORD in KwaZulu-Natal last year in relation to our military health capabilities,” Modise said.

Not to be outdone, the Ukrainian Association of South Africa rallied with their like-minded South African comrades who manned the streets surrounding Pandor’s Pretoria offices to ensure Lavrov shared their sentiment as he was wheeled in and out of the quaint building along the Southpansberg Road.

Activists demonstrated in Pretoria under the banner of the Ukrainian Association of South Africa when the Minister for International Relations, Dr. Naledi Pandor received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov. Image file: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

“South Africa today holds a meeting with Russia on bilateral cooperation. From an economic point of view, it makes no sense for the country to side with Russia as its annual trade with Russia is just R15 billion, as opposed to R700 billion with the European Union and R290 billion with the United States.” , according to the Ukrainian Association of the South Africa said.

“Will South Africa learn from Lavrov’s experience regarding corruption and looting of public funds? Lavrov has been the foreign minister of the Russian Federation for almost 20 years and represents (Vladimir) Putin’s autocratic system in which public money from Russian citizens is used to stifle freedom of expression and fund the yachts, palaces and offshore accounts of Russian oligarchs.”

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In a petition to Pandor, which she and one of her cabinet colleagues seem unmoved by, the activists called on the South African government to “immediately and unequivocally condemn Russia’s colonial war against Ukraine and to end all military and economic cooperation with Russia until Russian forces have withdrawn, Ukrainian borders have been restored, and reparations for human casualties and infrastructure damage have been made in full.”

The protesters said that for 11 months Russia has used military aggression against “the sovereign country of Ukraine”, threatening the world with a nuclear attack and increasing hunger and poverty on the African continent, all in violation of the UN Charter on Human Rights and nuclear safety ‘ and moral and ethical norms.

Activists insisted that South Africa appeared to have a short memory, recalling:

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dr Naledi Pandor, activists under the banner of the Ukrainian Union of South Africa demonstrating in Pretoria as Minister for International Relations, received the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov. Image file: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

“In the past, Ukraine has provided sanctuary to South African anti-apartheid activists and has not been silent or neutral when South Africans fought for their freedom. In just two years, between 1963 and 1965, 328 anti-apartheid activists were trained in Odessa and further financial and moral support was provided.

“Today, during the 11 long months of this war, Russia has destroyed thousands of schools, hospitals, power plants, apartment blocks and houses, with an estimated damage of at least $100 billion (R1.7 trillion), it has turned over eight million Ukrainian women and children to refugees and has killed and seriously injured over 1,329 children,” read the petition, seen by IOL.

“The consequences of the Russian invasion have already hit the most vulnerable people in South Africa through rising fuel prices, food shortages, financial instability and cuts in development funds.”

As things stand today, the world is poised for spectacular acrobatic flight displays from the joint naval exercise codenamed Exercise Mosi II and on the front lines of international relations.


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