President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa has been approached to play the mediation role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has killed thousands of civilians and led to the mass exodus of at least 2.2 million people fleeing Ukraine.
Ramaphosa on Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin called on “understanding the situation” between the two countries.
“I have set out our position on the conflict that has unfolded, as well as our belief that the conflict should be resolved through mediation and negotiation between the parties and – if necessary – with the help of agencies that can help find a solution to the conflict,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“President Putin appreciated our balanced approach. We believe that this position allows both sides to submit the conflict to mediation and negotiation.”
He said that based on South Africa’s relations with Russia and its membership in Brics, the country has been approached to play a mediating role.
Ramaphosa’s government has been criticized for its stance and refusal to condemn Moscow for the raging conflict.
The country abstained from voting on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine at the UN General Assembly on March 2.
This was when the UN General Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Russia immediately withdraw from Ukraine.
The resolution was passed after 141 of the 193 member states voted in favor of the non-binding resolution, while five voted against the resolution.
During a media briefing in Tshwane on Thursday on the results of the cabinet meeting, Cabinet repeated appeal from South African government for a “negotiated diplomatic solution” to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Presidency Minister Mondli Gungubele said the government urged all parties to uphold and protect human rights.
“The cabinet calls for a diplomatic solution through negotiations and urged all parties to uphold and protect human rights, and to fulfill their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law,” the minister said. .
The minister said the war in Ukraine was a conflict “underscored by complex factors” and this informed decision by the government not to take sides in this matter.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe