South Africa’s Ramaphosa in talks with Ukraine’s Zelensky

Despite widespread anger at its position, South Africa argues that negotiations are the best option to end the conflict.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has faced fierce criticism for refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on Thursday said he had talked with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ramaphosa announced on Twitter that he had had a phone conversation with Zelensky “to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and its tragic human cost, as well its global ramifications.”

“We agree on the need for a negotiated end to the conflict which has impacted Ukraine’s place in global supply chains, including its position as a major exporter of food to our continent,” said Ramaphosa. 

South Africa, the most developed economy in Africa, has maintained a non-aligned stance since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two months ago. Despite widespread anger at its position, South Africa argues that negotiations are the best option to end the conflict.

The country has so far abstained from voting in two high-profile UN rebukes of Russia. Dozens of other African countries have also steered clear of voting against Russia at the UN.

Ramaphosa said Zelensky “anticipates closer relations with Africa in future.” Zelensky has also asked to address the African Union, according to the AU’s current head, Senegalese Pesident Macky Sall. 

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