US backs EU pressure on SA to take stance on Russia

South Africa was among 16 of Africa’s 54 nations that abstained this week from voting on a UN resolution condemning the incursion.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Bloomberg

The US urged South Africa to clarify its stance on the war 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 urged 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 war, and called for dialogue.

While the US supports South Africa’s call for negotiations, it also wants a strong, unified stance against Russia, acting US Ambassador Todd Haskell said in remarks aired on Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA. He cited a quote by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, repeated by former South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that failing to take a position in conflicts between oppressors and the oppressed means to side with the oppressor, not to be neutral.

“We think it’s really important when we look at this unprovoked aggression, this attack against democracy, Russia’s war against Ukraine, Putin’s war on Ukraine — it’s important to say this is wrong,” Haskell said.

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. Eight other African nations weren’t present for the vote and one — Eritrea — opposed it.

The African antipathy toward censuring Putin’s administration partly reflected their military links to Russia, Kenyan political activist Nanjala Nyaboka said on Twitter. Africa bought almost 50% of its military equipment from Russia in 2015–2019, almost double its weapons imports from the US and China, according to the South African Institute of International Affairs.


South Africa’s response to the war reflects an attempt to balance historic ties to Russia with its economic links to the U.S. 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 when compared with the EU and the US, which along with China rank as its top three trading partners.

EU Ambassador to South Africa Riina Kionka also expressed frustration with South Africa’s position.

“Sitting on the fence is not an option,” she said in an emailed response to questions. “Once we figure out what the South African government stance really is” the EU will consider what the repercussions are, she said.

© 2022 Bloomberg


Sort by:
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Top voted

You must be signed in and an Insider Gold subscriber to comment.


“ should have agreed to an unconditional meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to avert war, and called for dialogue”

That is SO weak.

So we are equating the West’s not doing open agenda talks, to Putin invading a sovereign nation.

I still want to know what hold Putin has over the ANC. The nuclear deal bribes? Maybe a forensic review of all the ANC bank accounts from 2010 to 2022 would be enlightening. Do a reverse check on what bank accounts ANC employees were paid from to check we have ALL the ANC bank accounts. Of late the ANC can’t pay its salaries. How did it pay its salaries for the decade before?

The fact is that nations take the stand [Against or For] any conflict war based on their self-interest gains. This is a historical fact. We have seen in the past when America/EU take the stand in support of war if they believe they have something to gain, irrespective of bloodshed on the other side. And we have also witnessed America/EU be against war, but all this decisiveness is often based on self-gain interest never from a position of peace. I am not saying South Africa or Other African Nations should act or not but for US Ambassador to be lecturing what stand should Ramaphosa Administration take, hmm, look whose talking bro!

End of comments.




Instrument Details  

You do not have any portfolios, please create one here.
You do not have an alert portfolio, please create one here.

Follow us:

Search Articles:
Click a Company: