The US urged South Africa to clarify its stance on the conflict in Ukraine, backing the European Union’s push for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration to take a harder line against the Russian incursion.
On the day the invasion began, South Africa’s foreign ministry called Russia to immediately withdraw its forces and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
A day later, Ramaphosa took a different tack, saying US President Joe Biden should have agreed to an unconditional meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to avert conflict and called for dialogue.
South Africa was among 16 of Africa’s 54 nations that, like China and India, abstained this week from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning the incursion.
South Africa’s response to the conflict reflects an attempt to balance historic ties to Russia with its economic links to the US and Europe.
Russia was a key ally in the ruling African National Congress’s fight against White, minority rule that ended in 1994, and like South Africa, it is a member of the five-nation group of emerging markets known as BRICS. Still, Russia’s economic ties to South Africa are negligible