Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has blamed the West for the non-occurrence of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Lavrov emphasized that Russia was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, however, the United States and other Western nations advised Kyiv against holding talks.
Lavrov is in Pretoria for discussions with South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, as Russia seeks to bolster ties with Africa’s most developed country and an historical ally amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Lavrov met with Pandor in the South African capital and is expected to visit other African countries on his trip. It’s the Russian Minister’s second visit to Africa in the space of six months as Moscow seeks to garner support.
Lavrov’s remarks were similar to those made last year by President Vladimir Putin.
The U.S. and other Western nations have stated that Russia is not serious about making a deal to end the nearly year-long war.
“It is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and by the end of March, the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict. It is well known and was published openly that our American, British, and some European colleagues told Ukraine that it is too early to deal, and the arrangement which was almost agreed was never revisited by the Kyiv regime.”Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister
Russia has repeatedly rejected Ukrainian and Western demands that it withdraws completely from Ukraine as a condition for any negotiations.
Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa’s 1.3 billion people, which includes rising oil and food prices, was expected to take center stage during Lavrov’s talks with Pandor.
“We are fully alert that conflict, wherever it exists in the world, impacts negatively on all of us, and as the developing world it impacts on us particularly as the African continent. This is why as South Africa we consistently articulate that we will always stand ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the continent and throughout the globe.”Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations
Lavrov reiterated a claim that he has made before, that the West was responsible for the surge in global food prices.
Strong Ties Between Russia And South Africa
South Africa continues to maintain strong ties with Russia.
This is because of the Soviet Union’s support for the country’s current ruling party, the African National Congress, when it was a liberation movement fighting to end the apartheid system of repression against South Africa’s Black majority.
That relationship is largely what led South Africa to abstain from a U.N. vote last year condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Nonetheless, a small group of people protested against Russia and its full-scale invasion of Ukraine outside the building where Lavrov and Pandor held talks.
Despite South Africa’s expressed neutrality over Ukraine, Lavrov’s visit comes days after the South African armed forces announced that they would hold joint drills with the Russian and Chinese navies off South Africa’s eastern coast next month, bringing Russian and Chinese warships across the Indian Ocean.
Sergey Lavrov insisted that the naval exercises would be “transparent” and would follow international law.
“Three sovereign countries will hold drills without violating international law, and I don’t understand with whom this can cause a mixed reaction.”Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov visited Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda and the Republic of Congo on his African tour last year.
That was closely followed by a visit to South Africa by U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, a step perceived as a bid by Washington to counter expanding Russian influence in the strategically important African continent.